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Croatia: Ministers Quit, Further Straining Coalition

Zagreb, 28 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Five ministers from Croatia's second-largest party have quit the government today to protest their party's decision to replace several of them. The five -- Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic, Economy Minister Goranko Fizulic, Defense Minister Jozo Rados, Health Minister Andro Vlahusic, and the Minister for Science Hrvoje Kraljevic -- are all members of the Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS), a key ally in Premier Ivica Racan's five-party coalition.

The resignations come one day after HSLS party chief Drazen Budisa said Granic, Fizulic, and Transport and Telecommunications Minister Alojz Tusek would be removed, saying only that the party is not satisfied with their work.

Budisa, a moderate nationalist, resigned as party chief last summer in protest at Racan's decision to extradite two Croatian generals to the UN war crimes tribunal. He returned to the post in early February.

It was not immediately clear if Racan will accept the resignations. The coalition, which is already in the midst of revamping its rules on governing, is scheduled to meet tomorrow.