*** ----> Alleged gunman charged with Slovak PM’s attempted murder | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Alleged gunman charged with Slovak PM’s attempted murder

Authorities charged an alleged gunman yesterday with the attempted murder of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, saying the shooting was sparked by the election win last month of a Fico ally.

The premier’s condition has stabilised but was still “very serious” a day after the violence that prompted deep worries of an escalation in the politically polarised nation.

“This is a lone wolf whose actions were accelerated after the presidential elections since he was dissatisfied with its outcome,” interior minister Matus Sutaj Estok said.

Slovak president-elect Peter Pellegrini, the Fico ally who won April’s vote, earlier yesterday called for calm, urging political parties to halt campaigning for June’s EU parliament election.

The leader of the biggest opposition party, centrist Progressive Slovakia, announced his grouping had already done so.

Slovakia’s politics have been divided for years between pro-Europeans and nationalist-leaning camps, with the latest elections heavily influenced by disinformation and verbal attacks on social media.

Pellegrini, Fico’s ally who will assume office in June, said Slovakia should avoid “further confrontation” in a joint statement with outgoing President Zuzana Caputova.

The two politicians represent rival political camps but Caputova said they wanted “to send a signal of understanding” as she urged an end to “the vicious circle of hatred”.

Surgeons spent hours in the operating theatre, battling to save the 59-year-old leader after the shooting, which happened on Wednesday afternoon as Fico spoke to members of the public after a meeting.

Deputy prime minister Robert Kalinak said doctors stabilised Fico’s condition, “but unfortunately, his condition is still very serious as the injuries are complicated”.

Footage of events just after the shooting showed security agents grabbing a wounded Fico from the ground and hustling him into a black car. Other police handcuffed a man on the pavement nearby.

Fico, whose party won the general election last September, is a four-time prime minister and political veteran accused of swaying his country’s foreign policy in favour of the Kremlin.

Outside the hospital, shock mixed with outrage as residents of Banska Bystrica condemned the assault. “I’m certainly afraid that such attacks will be repeated,” Nina Stevulova, a 18-year-old student, said.

“There’s no need to do such things. Feel free to throw a tomato or an egg at him or scold him that ‘You are a thief or a murderer’,” Karol Reichl, a former professional driver, told AFP. “But don’t come with a gun and shoot,” the 69-year-old said.