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Slovak president appoints cabinet let by Pellegrini

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 15, 2018 Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini arrives for a meeting with the Slovak President in Bratislava. Slovak President Andrej Kiska on March 21, 2018 approved a new cabinet after the last prime minister quit in a scandal over the murder of a journalist. “I have decided that tomorrow I will appoint Mr (Peter) Pellegrini to the position of prime minister and I will accept his proposal for the nomination of the members of the new government,” Kiska told reporters. Pellegrini was chosen last week to lead a three-party coalition government in place of his ally Robert Fico. / AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR SIMICEK

Slovakia’s president on Thursday appointed a new government led by Peter Pellegrini, whose predecessor had quit in a scandal over the murder of an investigative journalist.

“Your responsibility is to fight for public confidence and the trust of our citizens,” President Andrej Kiska told Pellegrini after appointing him in front of reporters.

“As the head of state, I will not allow you to forget this responsibility.”

The new cabinet of the three-party coalition retains most of the same people from the previous administration, a couple of whom swapped jobs.

Pellegrini was chosen last week to take over from ally Robert Fico, who resigned as prime minister after journalist Jan Kuciak’s death sparked anti-government protests and raised concern about media freedom and corruption.

Analysts believe that Fico will pull the strings from behind the scenes, as he remains head of the Smer-SD party of which Pellegrini and outgoing interior minister Robert Kalinak are deputy chairmen.

The new cabinet “will be very dependent on Robert Fico and Robert Kalinak, who remain in their respective positions at Smer-SD,” Bratislava-based analyst Juraj Marusiak told AFP.

Kuciak and his fiancee, both 27, were found shot dead last month in their home near Bratislava.

Police said Kuciak’s death was “most likely” related to his investigation into alleged ties between top politicians and Italian mafia.

Pellegrini condemned Kuciak’s murder, calling it “an attack on freedom of speech” and said the government “will do everything to investigate this abominable act”.

Of the 15 cabinet members, nine positions will remain unchanged from the previous administration.

Outgoing health minister Tomas Drucker will take over as interior minister from Kalinak, who had resigned because of the political crisis.

Doctor and one-time health minister Richard Rasi will take over from Pellegrini as deputy prime minister for investments, while doctor Andrea Kalavska will replace Drucker as the head of the health ministry, where she had been the state secretary.

Smer-SD member Lubica Lassakova will become the culture minister, and lawyer Gabor Gal — a lawmaker for the Most-Hid junior coalition partner — will be the new justice minister.

Pellegrini will attend the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.

On Friday, the parliament will vote on the new government’s general policy statement.


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