July 22, 2024

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Slovakia’s interim prime minister resigns months before early elections

Slovakia’s interim prime minister resigns months before early elections

(Reuters) – Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Hager said on Sunday he had asked the president to relieve him of his duties after the resignations of ministers weakened his caretaker government ahead of elections in September.

Heger is due to meet President Zuzana Caputova, who has the power to appoint a new caretaker prime minister, later on Sunday.

Heger has faced opposition calls to make room for a technocratic administration to lead the central European country until early elections in September.

Polls have found that the public favors the larger opposition party, which is led by former prime minister Robert Fico and opposes increased military aid to neighboring Ukraine.

This controversy paralyzed politics in NATO and the European Union, which has been a staunch supporter of Kiev since the Russian invasion. Its efforts to limit the impact on the population of rising energy costs and inflation have also led to political tensions.

Heger said on Sunday that he did not want the political crisis to drag on.

“I decided to ask the president to remove my authority and leave space for the president to try with a government of technocrats to lead Slovakia firmly and peacefully into democratic parliamentary elections,” he said in a televised news conference.

The ruling coalition, led by Heger, lost its majority in September last year when the libertarian SaS party resigned and subsequently accused the government of not doing enough to help people with energy costs that last year reached record levels in Europe.

Heger lost a vote of no confidence in December last year and in January agreed to snap elections as the best solution, leaving him as a caretaker.

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Several ministers left the government citing various reasons. Most recently, the Minister of Agriculture resigned from his position this week after a scandal over a subsidy to a company he owned. He denied any wrongdoing.

On Friday, the foreign minister tendered his resignation.

It was not certain whether Caputova would name a new prime minister on Sunday.

(Reporting) By Jason Hovett in Prague Editing by Peter Graf

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