BRATISLAVA: Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak resigned on Monday, bowing to demands of a junior coalition partner which had sought the removal of Prime Minister Robert Fico's close ally amid a political crisis.
Following the biggest street protests in decades last Friday, Fico is seeking to keep his coalition government together after the murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak shook the central European nation.
The death of Kuciak, who probed fraud cases involving politically-connected businessmen, has stoked public anger over persistent corruption allegations and sparked mass protests.
In the largest demonstrations since the fall of communism in 1989, an estimated 50,000 people rallied in the capital Bratislava on Friday and thousands more in other cities, demanding the resignation of Fico's cabinet and a thorough investigation of Kuciak's death.
Fico's junior partner in government, the Most-Hid (Bridge) group, had demanded Fico dismiss Kalinak, a founding member of Fico's Smer party, by Monday.
Critics say Kalinak, who oversees the police as interior minister, cannot guarantee an independent investigation into the killing of Kuciak and his fiancee in late February.
Kalinak told a news conference he made his decision independently.
"It's important for stability to be maintained, therefore I decided to resign the post of deputy prime minister and interior minister," Kalinak said.
Fico had resisted getting rid of Kalinak but, worried over losing Most-Hid's support, last week said he was ready to offer solutions to keep their support.
Most-Hid's leadership will meet later on Monday.
(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Toby Chopra)