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Tens of thousands rally in Slovakia demanding early election

Protesters took to the streets for the third straight Friday.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have rallied across Slovakia to demand an early election to resolve a political crisis set off by the killings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Protesters took to the streets for the third straight Friday despite the resignation of prime minister Robert Fico and his government on Thursday.

Those at the rallies blame Mr Fico and the three-party coalition that will still stay in power for widespread corruption.

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Robert Fico quit this week Dano Veselský/TASR/AP)

Last week the protesters demanded a thorough investigation into the shooting deaths of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova in the biggest anti-government demo since the 1989 Velvet Revolution that toppled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

Mr Kuciak was reporting on alleged Italian mafia ties to Fico associates.

On Friday, protesters chanted “Early elections!” and many called for a general strike.

“We need a new chance for a decent and just Slovakia, and that’s why we request early elections,” the organisers, who are not affiliated with any political party, said in a statement.

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The funeral of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in Stiavni (AP/Bundas Engler)

The rallies, some taking place in rain, were held in 35 towns and cities in Slovakia and more than two dozen places around the globe.

On Thursday, President Andrej Kiska accepted Mr Fico’s resignation and asked deputy prime minister Peter Pellegrini to form a new government.

That move, which will keep the three-party coalition in power and avoid an early election, angered many Slovaks.

Organiser Karolina Farska said the coalition government’s efforts “to stay in power at any cost clearly proves that they want to sweep all the corruption cases under the rug — the cases that the slain Jan Kuciak was writing about”.

The protesters say the two killings cannot be properly investigated under such circumstances.

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