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Rusko earns party trust but not deputy chairmen

NEW Citizen’s Alliance (ANO) boss Pavol Rusko gained the support of a majority of his party’s board members after Rusko shed light on a suspicious financial matter that prompted some ruling coalition colleagues to demand his recall as economy minister. Although Rusko won a show of alliance from ANO members, he failed to sway those closest to him, the daily SME reported.

After Rusko’s four-hour testimony to his party, explaining the bills of exchange worth more than Sk100 million that he signed as economy minister, most ANO board members found him “trustworthy”. However, Deputy Chairmen Lubomír Lintner and Jirko Malchárek along with ANO Deputy Jozef Heriban withheld their support.

Culture Minister František Tóth and the head of the ANO’s Bratislava region, Lubo Roman, abstained from voting.

Shortly before the ANO board meeting started, Rusko met with Lintner, who advised Rusko to resign from office for what the deputy clearly sees as a conflict of interest. The daily SME reported that Lintner looked unhappy.

Several ANO deputies were locked out of the meeting. Peter Biroš, who shares Lintner's opinion about conflict of interest, complained that he could not participate in the vote. Health Minister Rudolf Zajac and deputy Stanislav Kropilák were also awaiting permission to enter the meeting, SME wrote.

The boss of the Hungarian Coalition Party, Béla Bugár, said the ANO’s support for Rusko reflects the minister’s strength within his own party. However, Bugár pointed out that such support does not change the fact that the prime minister will likely ask Rusko to step down.

Bugár said that if Rusko leaves office, the ANO would not move to the opposition.

Compiled by Magdalena MacLeod from press reports
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