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New Slovak administration replaces govt that collapsed over journalist slayings

© Joe Klamar, AFP | Placards with doctored portraits of former government officials, including PM Robert Fico (L and 2R), seen at an anti-corruption rally and tribute to Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova on March 16, 2108, in Bratislava.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2018-03-22

Slovakia's president appointed a new government Thursday to replace the one that resigned amid a political crisis triggered by the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Prime Minister Robert Fico's three-party coalition stepped down last week following large street protests sparked by the Feb. 25 shooting deaths of reporter Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova.

It is not clear if the move will reduce tensions, but anti-government rallies scheduled for Friday were cancelled.

Before he was slain, Kuciak was reporting on alleged Italian mafia ties to associates of Fico and corruption scandals linked to Fico's leftist Smer-Social Democracy party.

President Andrej Kiska on Thursday swore in a Cabinet composed of the same three parties as previously, and led by Peter Pellegrini, formerly the deputy prime minister.

"It's your responsibility to fight to win public trust," Kiska told the government members.

Pellegrini pledged to "renew the stability of Slovakia."

>> Thousands attend vigils for slain Slovak anti-corruption journalist

Pellegrini changed five ministers of the 14 in the previous government, but since he is also deputy chairman in the Smer-Social Democracy party, no significant policy changes are expected. His government is likely to continue Fico's strong anti-migrant policies.

The coalition will face a confidence vote in Parliament but it's likely to win, because it has 79 of the 150 seats in Parliament.

Later Thursday, organizers of the anti-government protests said they will be closely watching the new government.

"We haven't finished yet, quite the contrary," they said in a statement. "We're here and ready to take to the streets again."

The protesters were demanding a thorough and independent investigation into the shooting deaths, with the participation of international investigators, and the creation of a credible government.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have rallied repeatedly across Slovakia since the bodies of Kuciak and Kusnirova were found shot dead at home, the biggest anti-government protests since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

They don't trust that the Slovak police will be able to investigate the slayings properly.

Kiska expressed the same opinion, saying Thursday it will be "necessary to replace the police leadership."

(AP)

Date created : 2018-03-22

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