Slovakia's pro-West diplomat Korcok to face off with Fico ally Pelligrini in presidential runoff

Slovak ex-foreign minister Ivan Korcok and current parliament speaker Peter Pellegrini will face off in April's presidential election runoff, near-final results showed Saturday.

The liberal Korcok led with 42.44 percent backing with 99.9 percent of the vote counted, while former prime minister Pellegrini earned 37.07 percent, the Slovak Statistics Office said.

The result was expected by analysts as the 48-year-old Pellegrini and 59-year-old Korcok topped the opinion polls before the vote marked by deep divisions on the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Korcok, backed by the opposition, is staunchly pro-Ukraine like outgoing president Zuzana Caputova, a government critic who chose not to seek a second term.

Former premier Pellegrini is a part of the Russia-leaning ruling camp led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, who has questioned Ukraine's sovereignty and called for peace with Russia.

Though the office is largely ceremonial, Slovakia's president ratifies international treaties, appoints top judges and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The head of the NATO and EU member of 5.4 million people can also veto laws passed by parliament.

'Slovakia's interests first'

Korcok, who would likely face stiff opposition from the Fico team if elected, said he would "like to address all voters" before the April 6 runoff.


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