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news 30 Jan 16

Serbian PM Axes Defence Minister For Sexist Remark

After delaying action for some time, Serbia's Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, on Saturday finally sacked Defence Minister Bratislav Gasic for the sexist remark he made to a reporter.

 Bratislav Gasic | Photo: Beta.

Serbia's Prime Minister has belatedly axed his controversial defence minister, Branislav Gasic, who has been in the middle of controversy since early December when he told reporter Zlatija Labovic from TV B92, who had knelt down to get out of the way of her cameraman at a press event: “I love female journalists who get down on their knees easily.”

The remark outraged many Serbian journalists, triggering protests in front of the government building in Belgrade where journalists demanded Gasic's immediate removal.

The Prime Minister promised to do so but then appeared to hesitate.

Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic has been named caretaker Defence Minister, the Serbian government said in a statement.

Media reports cited Aleksandar Vucic as praising Gasic's achievements as minister, while warning that "the [sexist] words he used cannot be used in the future".

Vucic's decision is due to be confirmed by parliament on February 5.

Gasic has been urged to quit on several occasions in connection with other alleged wrongdoings.

Last September, the Anti-Corruption Agency alleged that he had a conflict of interest when he awarded contracts to companies linked to his family while he was mayor of the city of Krusevac. Gasic denied this.

In September, Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic advised the authorities to dismiss him in connection with incidents that occurred during last year’s Gay Pride parade in Belgrade.

Opposition parties also called on Gasic to resign over an army helicopter crash in March in which seven people died, including a five-day-old baby. He denied that he was responsible for the tragedy.

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