Slovak leader clings on as coalition cracks over murder of reporter

Slovak leader clings on as coalition cracks over murder of reporter

A coalition partner had made Robert Kalinak's resignation a condition for continued support in government.

Mr Fico and his Smer party did not publicly respond on Tuesday to the demand from the smaller Most-Hid party, but the man who has led Slovakia for 10 of the last 12 years will face a tricky no-confidence vote in parliament next Monday if he retains power until then.

The killings have gripped Slovakia, leading to calls for an investigation and to anti-government protests in Bratislava on Friday which were thought to be the largest in the country since the fall of Communism in 1989. Kalinak's resignation was a key requirement of Most-Hid for it remaining in the coalition.

Slovakia's interior minister will resign to prevent the collapse of Prime Minister Robert Fico's government, which is trying to fend off calls for early elections following the murder of an investigative journalist. As interior minister, he was responsible for overseeing the country's police force.

Kalinak said he hoped that by resigning, "I will contribute to the stabilization of the situation in Slovakia".

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Kuciak's last, unfinished story was about the activities of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and alleged ties to people close to Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Kalinak's move comes after tens of thousands of protesters across Slovakia demanded the resignation of the government and a thorough investigation into the shooting deaths of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova.

Kalinak was a founder member of Fico's Smer party.

Although the government has denied any links between two people who worked in Fico's office and were reportedly connected to the mafia via business intermediaries, the fallout has damaged its reputation.

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