Pressure is mounting on Slovakia”s under-fire prime minister Igor Matovic in a political crisis sparked after the country bought COVID vaccines from Russia.
He is facing increased calls to resign after two cabinet ministers stood down.
Ivan Korcok, Slovakia’s foreign and European affairs Minister and Branislav Grohling, education minister, announced their resignations on Wednesday.
It means a total of six government ministers – including the country’s health minister – have quit Slovakia’s 16-member cabinet.
Opposition parties, as well as members of the ruling four-party coalition, have accused Matovic of mishandling the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Slovakia’s president also called on the prime minister to resign and clear the way for a Cabinet reshuffle.
“It is inevitable for the prime minister to resign and make it possible for the coalition partners to strike a deal to reconstruct the government,” said Zuzana Caputova.
She added that she had already received the resignation of four ministers in less than two weeks.
The political crisis erupted after Slovakia agreed to purchase 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine before the jab had been approved by the European Medicines Agency.
The deal was conducted despite disagreement by Matovic’s coalition partners, the Freedom and Solidarity party and For People party.
The Prime Minister has defended the Sputnik V purchase, saying it would speed up the vaccination programme in one of the hardest-hit European Union countries.
But two parties have demanded his resignation to maintain the coalition or they would leave the government.
Matovic stated that he was prepared to step down if the Freedom and Solidarity leader Richard Sulik, and Justice Minister Maria Kolikova – from the For People party – also resigned. Both politicians have since quit their positions.
The prime minister had also said he would only resign if he could remain in the country’s Cabinet, a condition rejected by his coalition allies.
Eduard Heger, Slovakia’s current finance minister and acting health minister, has been suggested as a potential candidate to replace Matovic.
Slovakia was the second EU country to purchase doses of Sputnik V, after Hungary.