Slovenia's premier resigns over court ruling on referendum

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Slovenia's premier resigns over court ruling on referendum
FILE - A Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 file photo of Slovenian Prime Minister, Miro Cerar arriving for an EU summit at the Europa building in Brussels. Cerar said Wednesday, March 14, 2018 that he is resigning after the country’s top court annulled last year’s referendum on a key railway project and ordered a new vote. Miro Cerar says that he has sent his resignation to parliament. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia’s prime minister said Wednesday he is resigning after the country’s top court annulled last year’s referendum on a key railway project and ordered a new vote.

Miro Cerar said that he has sent his resignation to parliament and will formally notify the president on Thursday. The move means that Slovenia’s parliamentary elections — which were due in early June — would be held a few weeks earlier.

Cerar praised his center-left government’s achievements.

“During my term the economic crisis ended. Slovenia has stable economic growth, third strongest in EU,” he said. “We have the lowest unemployment rate after 2009.”

Slovenia’s Supreme Court ruled earlier Wednesday that government backing for the project during the referendum campaign was one-sided and could have affected the outcome of the vote.

The referendum last September approved the government’s plan to build 27 kilometers (16 miles) of additional railway linking the Adriatic port of Koper with the Divaca hub near the border with Italy.

The vote was initiated by independent campaigner Vili Kovacic who also took the issue to Slovenia’s top courts. Kovacic was supported by some opposition parties.

Cerar said the railway project is of “strategic importance for the development of Slovenia.” He complained that “some are jeopardizing Slovenia’s development.”

The date for the new referendum wasn’t immediately set.