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Croatia PM wants ministers dismissed amid coalition dispute

Associated Press logo Associated Press 27/04/2017

ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatia's prime minister moved on Thursday to replace three ministers from a junior party in the government, triggering a crisis in the ruling conservative coalition.

Andrej Plenkovic announced the dismissal of the justice, interior and environment ministers because they voted against the government decision to reject a separate opposition motion to replace the finance minister.

"Ministers who do not support a colleague can no longer be members of my government," Plenkovic said. "A boundary between trust and mistrust has been crossed."

The move fuels tensions between Plenkovic's Croatian Democratic Union and its coalition partner Most, or Bridge, only six months after the government took office following an early parliamentary election.

The previous HDZ-Most government had collapsed in a similar dispute, causing months of political instability in the European Union's newest member state.

The opposition wants Finance Minister Zdravko Maric replaced over his involvement in the troubled Agrokor retail giant, whose problems have shaken the country.

Most leader Bozo Petrov said his party believes Maric "can no longer be the finance minister and should be excluded from financial decision-making."

But Petrov added his party will not try to topple the government over the issue. Most has four ministers in the current government, one of whom was not present at Thursday's session.

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