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New government told it must ‘win public trust’ in Slovakia

New PM Peter Pellegrini has taken the reins following public protests linked to the deaths of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Slovakia's protests were sparked by the murders of a journalist and his fiancee (Darko Vojinovic/AP)
Slovakia's protests were sparked by the murders of a journalist and his fiancee (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

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

Former prime minister Robert Fico’s three-party coalition stepped down last week following large street protests sparked by the shooting deaths of reporter Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova.

It is not clear if the move will reduce tensions and organisers of recent rallies across the country announced more protests for Friday.

Before he was killed, Mr Kuciak was reporting on alleged Italian mafia ties to associates of Mr Fico and corruption scandals linked to Mr 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.

Slovakia's new prime minister Peter Pellegrini signs documents during the swearing-in ceremony of the new government (Michal Svitok/PA)

“It’s your responsibility to fight to win public trust,” Mr Kiska told the government members.

As the new prime minister is deputy chairman in Mr Fico’s party, no significant policy changes are expected.

Mr Pellegrini changed five ministers of the 14 compared in the previous government.

His government is likely to continue the strong anti-migrant policy of Mr Fico.

The coalition will have to face a mandatory confidence vote in Parliament but is likely to win because it has 79 seats in the 150-seat Parliament.

Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska, right, shakes hands with Peter Pellegrini (Michal Svitok/AP)

Mr Pellegrini said the appointment is “one of the important steps to renew the stability of Slovakia”.

The protesters are 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 Mr Kuciak and Ms Kusnirova were found on February 25, the biggest anti-government protests since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

They claim they do not trust that the police would be able to investigate the killings properly.

Mr Kiska expressed the same opinion, saying on Thursday it will be “necessary to replace the police leadership”.

Press Association

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