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March 20, 2018 8:51 pm | FILED UNDER: europe

Slovak President Kiska Rejects Proposed Government

By ČTK

Bratislava, March 20 (CTK) – Slovak President Andrej Kiska refused to appoint a new government in the lineup proposed by the current coalition of the Smer-Social Democracy, Slovak National Party (SNS) and Most-Hid, Kiska told reporters today after a meeting with possible next PM Peter Pellegrini.

 

Kiska said he asked outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Pellegrini (Smer-SD), whom he assigned to form a new government last week, to submit a new draft lineup by Friday.

 

Kiska also said he got Pellegrini acquainted with his objections. He only indicated to journalists that he considered the candidate for interior minister problematic.

 

Pellegrini is expected to comment on Kiska’s decision later this afternoon.

 

A lot must be demanded from the next government to restore public trust in state institutions, Kiska added.

 

The coalition agreed to form a new cabinet that would be headed by Pellegrini after Smer-SD chairman Robert Fico resigned as prime minister last week amid a political crisis caused by the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in late February.

 

The coalition, which commands a majority in the 150-seat parliament, proposed a change in five posts in the 15-member cabinet.

 

Along with another PM, there would be a new person in the post of deputy PM for investments and informatics, replacing Pellegrini, and new interior, justice and culture ministers.

 

“He (Pellegrini) must persuade us that the new government will bring the changes we are expecting. He must form a stable government whose lineup, primarily the personality of the interior minister, will be able to calm down the tense atmosphere in society,” Kiska said.

 

He at the same time appreciated Pellegrini’s correct and constructive approach to the formation of a new government, which he called “a welcome change” compared with the past.

 

Daily Pravda reports that Kiska refused to appoint Jozef Raz Junior, a son of the lead singer of the Elan rock band, whom the coalition proposed for a new interior minister. Raz Jr is now the general secretary of the Health Ministry office.

 

Kiska probably responded to the Slovak media information about friendly relations between Raz Jr and outgoing interior minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD deputy head). In 2011, the pluska.sk server published a photograph from the celebrations of Kalinak’s 40th birthday, in which both he and Raz were posing on motorcycles.

 

Kalinak, one of the most controversial ministers in Fico’s team, announced his resignation under the pressure after Kuciak murder an the mass anti-government demonstrations that followed. Fico tendered his resignation, which means the fall of the whole government, later.

 

However, dozens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets of Slovak towns are not satisfied with a mere reshuffle of the current coalition government and demand early elections.

 

The organisers of demonstrations confirmed today that the protests would continue on Friday.

 

According to the media, the president also raised objections to the continuation of Jan Richter (Smer-SD) in the post of labour and social affairs minister and the proposal that Smer-SD MP Richard Rasi be appointed deputy PM.

 

The new cabinet should persuade the public that it intends to investigate not only the murder of Kuciak and his fiancee, but also the suspicion of links to organised crime of which the murdered journalist wrote, Kiska said.

 

Under the Slovak constitution, it is up to the head of state whom he appoints as prime minister. The president traditionally appoints the person who can rely on a majority in parliament. Afterwards, he is obliged to appoint the government members proposed by the new PM.

 

Pellegrini has not been appointed PM yet.

 

If Pellegrini did not submit a new draft government lineup, Kiska might assign someone else to form a new cabinet. If a new government does not win confidence in parliament, the president may dissolve the parliament, which would lead to an early election. Fico’s government, which resigned along with him, would remain in office until the appointment of the next cabinet.

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