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Tens of Thousands Rally in Slovakia, Demand Early Election


Demonstrators call for elections at a protest rally in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 16, 2018. They say the prime minister's resignation is not enough following the murder of Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Slovakia Friday to call for snap elections, saying the prime minister’s resignation is not enough to address their concerns following the murder of an investigative journalist.

In a third day of demonstrations, protesters rallied in 35 towns and cities. About 50,000 people gathered in the capital, Bratislava, despite Thursday’s resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico and his government. Demonstrators chanted “early elections’’ and said the whole government needs to change.

Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee were found shot to death at home last month. Kuciak reported on fraud allegations against businessmen with political ties, and protesters have demanded a through investigation of his killing as well as of the alleged government corruption.

FILE - Outgoing Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, left, shakes hands with Peter Pellegrini, who will replace Fico as prime minister, at the Presidential palace in Bratislava, March 15, 2018.
FILE - Outgoing Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, left, shakes hands with Peter Pellegrini, who will replace Fico as prime minister, at the Presidential palace in Bratislava, March 15, 2018.

Police said Kuciak’s death was most likely related to his investigation into alleged ties between top Slovakia politicians and the Italian mafia. Nobody has been charged in the killings.

On Thursday, Slovak President Andrej Kiska accepted Fico’s resignation and asked Peter Pellegrini, Fico’s deputy prime minister, to form a new government. The move keeps the government’s current three-party coalition in power and avoids an early election.

This week’s demonstrations have been the largest in Slovakia since the 1989 Velvet Revolution that toppled Communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

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