Bratislava, Slovakia (AP) – The leader of one of Slovakia’s ruling coalition parties resigned from his government on Monday to help pave the way for a reshuffled cabinet amid a political crisis over a secret deal to buy a Russian coronavirus vaccine.
The leader of the Freedom and Solidarity party, Richard Sulik, who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Slovakia, said he believed his move “would help resolve the government’s crisis”.
Freedom and Solidarity, like another ruling party for the people, called for the resignation of Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic as a condition for the four-party coalition to survive. They threatened to leave the government if the prime minister did not resign.
Matovic said he was ready to do so if Sulik resigned as well. The two men repeatedly clashed over how to deal with the epidemic.
Matovic offered to stay in the government as an unspecified minister, but Sulik rejected the idea.
Sulik also rejected Matovic’s other terms for maintaining the coalition, including Sulik’s party’s request to relinquish one of its three ministries.
The price hike erupted two weeks ago when a secret deal broke out involving Slovakia agreeing to buy Sputnik V COVID-19 Russian 2 million doses. The populist prime minister agreed to the deal, despite disagreements with his coalition partners.
Matovic defended the purchase of Sputnik V, saying it would speed up the vaccination program in the country.
But both sides, demanding his resignation, say the deal calls into question Slovakia’s clear pro-Western orientation. They said they wanted any vaccine used in the country to be approved by an EU drug regulator that is not authorized by Sputnik V.
Matovich and his “Ordinary People” party signed a deal a year ago with the conservative Freedom Ազատ Solidarity Party, the Conservative People Մենք We’s family’s support party, which was allied with France’s far-right national rally. party:
Slovakia, a country of 5.4 million people, reported nearly 350,000 confirmed viral cases, including 9,104 deaths.
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