Slovak president appoints Heger prime minister, ending political crisis

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Former Slovakia's PM Matovic tendered his resignation in Bratislava

PRAGUE (Reuters) -Slovak President Zuzana Caputova appointed Eduard Heger prime minister on Thursday, ending a month-long political crisis.

Heger takes over from his party chairman Igor Matovic, who in turn takes Heger's former seat at the finance ministry. The swap is aimed at quelling coalition disputes sparked by Matovic's surprise purchase of Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in March.

Besides the exchange, the government continues largely unchanged, with all four original parties that joined the coalition a year ago.

Heger, 44, was a manager and parliamentary deputy from Matovic's OLANO party from 2016 to 2020, when he took over the finance portfolio.

OLANO won the election in 2020 with an anti-corruption agenda following the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée in 2018. A series of investigations have started since it came to power.

"I believe there will be accord and unity among us, because the clean-up of Slovakia still continues," Heger said.

The country of 5.5 million has seen the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations drop in the past few weeks, slowly descending from a peak last month during which it had ranked among the world's worst-hit countries.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Catherine Evans, William Maclean)