Slovenian Defense Minister Forced Out over Telecom Scandal


Slovenian Defense Minister Janko Veber was forced to step down by parliament Thursday over a telecom privatization scandal that has plunged the country's seven-month-old coalition into chaos.

Veber was dismissed by 68 votes to 11 in the 90-seat parliament, just days after refusing to resign.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar had requested Veber's resignation after a parliamentary commission revealed he had asked military intelligence to examine the impact on state security of the ongoing privatization of state-owned telecommunications operator Telekom.

"I've asked (parliament) to dismiss him because he committed serious mistakes and illegal and questionable things on the security field," Cerar told journalists after the voting.

Veber's junior coalition partner Social Democrats' party (SD) voted against his sacking but announced it could propose a new candidate to take over the defense ministry.

Slovenia launched a vast program of privatization in 2013 after being threatened by bankruptcy.

The sale of public enterprises has deeply divided the European Union member state.

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