Slovak PM Faces Deadline To Fire Interior Minister

Slovak PM Faces Deadline To Fire Interior Minister

A political crisis in Slovakia set off by the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee deepened Monday when a junior party in the governing coalition called for resolving the situation by holding early elections.

"This situation can only be solved with early elections", Bela Bugar, the leader of the minor coalition member Most-Hid, told reporters after a day of marathon talks.

Echoing Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Fico has accused foreign forces of trying to destabilize Slovakia and has questioned the president's meetings with financier George Soros in NY past year.

But organizers of the anti-government rallies said Monday that the interior minister stepping down "must be only a beginning" and announced more rallies for Friday to demand the government's resignation. Fico could still seek to rule in a minority without Most-Hid but faces limited options for support.

The junior nationalist coalition party SNS said on Monday that it could accept either early elections or a cabinet reshuffle.

Fico's coalition holds 78 seats in the 150-member parliament.

Bugar's announcement means the government created after the 2016 general election could fall apart soon.

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He said he would seek a deal for the coalition to call an early election on its own terms.

Slovakia has prospered in the past decade, joining the euro zone and growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe, but many see Fico as having failed to fight graft and cronyism.

For an early election, 90 votes in parliament are needed.

Echoing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Fico has accused foreign forces of trying to destabilise Slovakia and has questioned the president's meetings with financier George Soros in NY previous year. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of protesters in Bratislava, the capital, and across Slovakia demanded the resignation of the government and a thorough investigation into the shooting deaths of 27-year old Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova, who was also 27.

Journalist Kuciak's last, unfinished story was about the activities of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and their ties to people close to Prime Minister Robert Fico. Both have resigned but deny links to the murder.

Police have said Kuciak's death was "most likely" related to his investigation resulting in an article on ties between Slovakia's top politicians and Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia, which his employer posthumously published. No one has been charged in the killings.

Critics say Kalinak can not guarantee an independent probe into the February killings of Kuciak and his fiancee.

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