Croatian prime minister toppled in confidence vote

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Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, speaks with journalists as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on 19 February 2016Image source, AP
Image caption,
The conservative HDZ party helped Tihomir Oreskovic to power five months ago, but has fallen out with him

Croatia's technocrat prime minister has been ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament just five months after taking office.

Tihomir Oreskovic won the support of only a handful of MPs, as 125 of the 151 deputies voted against him.

The motion was put forward by the biggest party in the governing coalition, HDZ, which fell out with the PM over a conflict of interest case.

The Croatian president will now hold talks on forming a new government.

The conservative HDZ plans to propose Finance Minister Zdravko Maric to lead a new cabinet. The opposition Social Democrats want parliament to be dissolved so new elections can be held.

If no cabinet can be formed within 30 days, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic must call a snap election.

Croatia is one of the weakest economies in the EU and analysts say an election may delay badly-needed reforms.

Mr Oreskovic, a Canadian-educated financial expert, became prime minister after inconclusive elections last November.

But the coalition he headed was riven by internal disputes.

The disagreements came to a head when Mr Oreskovic accused HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko of a conflict of interest over ties with Hungary's state oil company.

Speaking in parliament shortly before he was ousted, Mr Oreskovic said: "Unfortunately, instead of discussing reforms... we discuss this no-confidence motion."