PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on Sunday he was prepared to step down to resolve a crisis in his four-party coalition, if his coalition partners agreed to conditions including a cabinet seat for himself.
The year-old, four-party coalition has suffered from disputes over Matovic’s management style, which boiled over earlier this month when he ordered shipments of the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine without his partners’ knowledge.
“If coalition partners meet the commitments that they have publicly declared, and that is what our demands are based on, I am willing to step down as the chairman of the cabinet and work as one of its members,” Matovic said in a statement to the press shown live on social media.
Matovic, a former anti-corruption activist and founder of the OLANO party, demanded that the leader of the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and Economy Minister Richard Sulik leave the cabinet.
Sulik, who has clashed with Matovic, had earlier called his rule “chaotic” and said he was willing to go if Matovic went too.
There was no immediate reaction from the other parties to Matovic’s proposals, which also included the departure of a minister from another party and one less cabinet seat for SaS.
Coalition leaders were due to meet later on Sunday evening.
The government parties won a landslide in last year’s election as Slovaks, angry at the murder of an investigative journalist, demanded a clean-up the country’s murky connections between business, politics, police and judiciary.
A series of investigations and prosecutions has followed the change of government, but the coalition remains plagued by disputes.
Slovakia, one of the European countries worst hit by the coronavirus, received 200,000 Sputnik vaccines out of an agreed 2 million on March 1, but has yet to start inoculations while the batch is reviewed by Slovak authorities.
It was the second EU nation after Hungary to buy Sputnik, which has not been cleared by the EU drug regulator.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Giles Elgood)
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