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June 17, 2018 5:00 pm | FILED UNDER: politics

Babis Presents Minister Candidates To Zeman, Refuses To Release Names To Media

By ČTK Babis Zeman Hamacek Poche

Lany/Pruhonice near Prague, June 17 (CTK) – Prime Minister Andrej Babis presented the names of all ministers for his ANO and those proposed by the Social Democrats (CSSD) in their nascent coalition cabinet to President Milos Zeman today, Babis has told reporters.

 

He did not release the ANO ministers’ names to reporters at the press conference.

 

He only ruled out that Frantisek Konicek, former general director of the Czech Forests national company and labour and social affairs minister in the Jiri Rusnok caretaker government (2013-2014), would head the Industry and Trade Ministry in his cabinet as the media had speculated of late.

 

Babis said he hoped that the planned meeting between Zeman and the Social Democrats’ candidate for foreign minister, MEP Miroslav Poche, would help solve the situation around his nomination.

 

Zeman as well as the Communists (KSCM), who should tolerate the ANO-CSSD minority government in a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, reject Poche’s nomination. The CSSD insists on it.

 

Zeman will start receiving the candidates for ministers, including Poche, after he returns from his visit to the Usti Region on Thursday.

 

Babis said he would like to seek the solution together with CSSD chairman Jan Hamacek and KSCM representatives.

 

Hamacek expressed surprised at Communist chairman Vojtech Filip categorically rejecting Poche in a TV debate on public Czech TV today. Filip said his party would not tolerate a government with Poche.

 

However, Babis said Hamacek had been discussing Poche with the president in the past weeks. “I expected the problem with Poche to be solved by the CSSD referendum,” Babis added.

 

Zeman will ask Poche to re-consider his candidacy for foreign minister to facilitate the formation of the ANO-CSSD government and its toleration, Zeman’s spokesman said today. Babis called on Poche to do the same on Saturday.

 

Babis’s ANO, which was part of the previous coalition government in 2014-2017, smoothly won the last October general election. His ANO minority government lost a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies in January and resigned, but it continues ruling pending the establishment of Babis’s new cabinet. He agreed on a coalition with the Social Democrats that is to be supported by the Communists.

 

The Social Democrats approved their entry into a coalition government with ANO in their intra-party referendum which ended on Thursday and results were announced a day later.

 

“The CSSD members were voting (in the referendum) on entering the government, not on names. I hope that we will solve the problem jointly,” Babis said.

 

However, in mid-May, the CSSD leadership outvoted Hamacek and he had to submit the CSSD ministers’ names, Babis said.

 

Poche told CTK that he would be preparing for a meeting with Zeman as a candidate for foreign minister, and that he hoped they would primarily discuss foreign policy.

 

Babis also said he still expected the Chamber of Deputies to vote on confidence in his government on July 11.

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