Kováč, Michal mē´käl kō´väch [key], 1929–2016, Slovak political leader, first president of independent Slovakia (1993–98). An economist, he worked in the banking sector, served as Czechoslovakia's finance minister (1990–91), and was chairman of the Czechoslovak parliament (1992) before the breakup of the country into Slovakia and the Czech Republic (1993). During his time as Slovakia's president, a largely ceremonial post, he clashed with the autocratic prime minister, Vladimír Mečiar , over the country's privatization program.
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