Slovenia PM accused of graft

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iol news pic Janez Jansa Slovenia REUTERS Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa. REUTERS/Dai Kurokawa/Pool

Ljuljana, Slovenia - The chief of Slovenia's anti-corruption watchdog on Friday called on the country's prime minister and the opposition leader to resign and let someone with a clear financial record lead the small European Union state out of its crippling economic crisis.

A report issued this week by the state Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has accused both Prime Minister Janez Jansa and opposition leader, Zoran Jankovic, of serious graft, throwing the state into a major political crisis with widespread calls for both of them to face legal consequences.

Goran Klemencic, the head of the watchdog, told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that the two are accused of “systemic, gross and repeated violations of the anti-corruption legislation.”

“It's been the first time in this country that an anti-corruption watchdog has ... accused the head of the government and the head of the opposition, who together basically cover more than sixty percent of the Slovenian political sphere and have held very high offices,” Klemencic said. “In that respect, it is expected that this has created an upheaval.”

The commission report said Jansa has failed to declare more than ?200,000 ($265,260) worth of private assets. It accused Jankovic, who is also the mayor of Ljubljana and one of the richest people in Slovenia, of failing to clarify where ?2.4 million ($3.1 million) of his money came from.

Both have denied the charges and have refused to step down, launching accusations against Klemencic and his commission which filed the report to the police seeking legal action.

A rally scheduled in Ljubljana later Friday is to call for Jansa's resignation and protest against austerity measures his government has proposed to try and prevent once the most prosperous ex-communist country in the EU from seeking financial help from the bloc.

“How can the prime minister and the head of the main opposition party, the mayor of the capital city, in a democracy, still be in place, after such findings?” said Klemencic.

“If nothing happens, either in terms of political consequences, or in terms of strengthening our powers and also our accountability, I will resign,” Klemencic said. “I don't want to be part of a system which is a paper tiger, which conducts a very thorough, in depth financial investigation based on facts, and basically then nothing happens.”

Even Jansa's center-right coalition partners have called on him to step down and let someone else be the premier. He refused, giving them until next week to make up their minds about remaining in the government, or start preparing for early elections.

An early vote would further prolong finding solutions for the financial turmoil, which includes shrinking of the gross domestic product by 3.3 percent in the third quarter compared to a year earlier - the third-biggest drop in the euro zone after Greece and Portugal. - Sapa-AP

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