ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia's prime minister said Friday he won't resign despite a crisis in his governing center-right coalition, and urged his two deputies to step down instead to end a political deadlock.
The senior governing party, the Croatian Democratic Union, and its junior partner, the Most group, each have a deputy prime minister. The crisis erupted when Most recently said it would support an opposition motion to replace its partner's deputy prime minister.
The clash fueled speculation that Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, a financial expert with no party affiliation, would quit to pave the way for an election only months after the government was formed.
"I am not resigning and I didn't plan to," Oreskovic said Friday, insisting a snap vote is not necessary and would only slow down and burden Croatia's economic recovery.
"I hope they (deputies) will make a decision in the interest of the Croatian citizens," he said.
Oreskovic's call was promptly rejected by the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union, Tomislav Karamarko, who said he was surprised by the prime minister's decision.
Karamarko said his party is yet to discuss its own future moves, including withdrawing support for Oreskovic. Karamarko didn't rule out new early elections in case a government reshuffle is not possible.
Most leader Bozo Petrov said he was ready to resign but insisted Karamarko should too.
The government was formed in January after an inconclusive election. Croatia joined the EU in 2013, years after the 1992-95 war for independence from the former Yugoslavia.