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April 24, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: politics

Zeman Rejects CSSD Demand Convicted Ministers Resign

By ČTK Milos Zeman Andrej Babis

Prague, April 24 (CTK) – Only definitively sentenced cabinet members should leave their posts, President Milos Zeman told TV Nova tonight in relation to the Social Democrat (CSSD) demand that ministers resign once they are convicted which the CSSD presented within its talks on a possible government with ANO.

 

ANO leader Andrej Babis, who heads the present cabinet that failed to win parliament’s support and is likely to head the next cabinet as well, rejected the CSSD demand. Last year, the police accused the billionaire Babis of an EU subsidy fraud.

 

Zeman said he did not agree with the Social Democrat demand. He argued that appeals courts often decide in a different way than the lower-level courts.

 

Another round of the talks between the CSSD and the ANO movement will open on Wednesday. ANO would like to agree on the draft coalition agreement with the CSSD by the end of the week.

 

Zeman appointed Babis as prime minister in December, but the ANO minority cabinet lost the confidence vote in parliament in January and had to resign. However, it will keep ruling the country until the formation of the next cabinet. Zeman entrusted Babis with leading the government-forming negotiations again as ANO was the clear winner of the elections held last October.

 

Zeman told TV Nova that Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) was interested in becoming an ambassador.

 

Stropnicky was ambassador to Portugal, Italy and the Vatican in 1993-2002. He was defence minister in 2014-17.

 

ANO offered five ministries to the CSSD, including the defence or foreign ministries. Media speculated that the CSSD prefer the Foreign Ministry, which means that Stropnicky would not continue in the future cabinet.

 

Zeman said Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) is a present cabinet member who should certainly leave his post.

 

Pelikan announced his departure from politics in early April. Earlier this year, he clashed with Zeman over the planned extradition of Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin. Pelikan extradited Nikulin to the USA, although Zeman called on him to extradite him to Russia.

 

Zeman today dismissed Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka’s opinion that the president should not take part in the congress of the Communist Party (KSCM).

 

At a religious ceremony celebrating the burial of the remains of Cardinal Josef Beran in the Prague cathedral on Saturday, Duka said it was noteworthy that Zeman attended a KSCM congress on that very day and called on Zeman to take a resolute stance on the Communists.

 

Zeman has been the first Czech post-communist president to be a guest to a KSCM congress.

 

Zeman recently sent Pope Francis a letter in which he praised Duka’s work.

 

Duka will turn 75 on Thursday, which is the age at which all Catholic bishops must offer their resignation, but the pope can extend their mandate.

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