Prague, (CTK) – Some of the nine candidates for Czech president are stepping up their lash outs at rivals, mainly at incumbent President Milos Zeman who seeks re-election in the direct vote, the first round of which is due next weekend.
Physician and activist Marek Hilser and former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos have signed a petition criticising the financing of Zeman’s campaign.
Former Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister Mirek Topolanek has also intensified his campaign of late.
Earlier this week, Topolanek told journalists that the main reason behind the strong voter popularity of Zeman is that the voters have not met him recently.
He said Zeman is an ill man and if elected, he might be incapable of exercising his mandate effectively for another five years.
In a video released on Friday, Topolanek criticised some presidential contenders for shunning selected debates of bidders, mentioning Drahos and mainly Zeman, who sent his spokesman to attend debates on his behalf.
This amounts to cowardice on the part of Zeman, but perhaps it is no cowardice but Zeman’s physical incapability of attending debates, Topolanek said.
“If so, I would ask him to consider withdrawing [from the presidential race],” Topolanek said.
Other candidates, too, have criticised Zeman for shunning debates of presidential contenders.
A petition which Hilser signed on Thursday and Drahos on Friday reacts to Zeman’s assertion that he would not lead any election campaign and calls on him to release the sources of financing the ongoing campaign in his support.
“We want to known whether you are really a Czech candidate or a Russian, or possibly a Chinese one,” the petition writes.
Its authors write that withholding of sponsors raises doubts on whether the pro-Zeman campaign has been financed by a mafia or a foreign power.
The petition calls on Czech authorities to check the sources financing the pro-Zeman campaign, including billboards, posters and leaflets.
Zeman says the campaign has been organised by his aides and fans. It is not known what money has been used to finance it.
Zeman has not informed about any such spending in his account that all candidates have to have to make their campaign financing transparent.
Another candidate, former ambassador Pavel Fischer, on Friday tweeted about negative advertisements lashing out at some candidates, which have appeared on Facebook.
Fischer cited a Facebook user as saying that the advertisements had been initiated by rival candidate Michal Horacek, a lyristict and entrepreneur, whose team, however, dismissed being behind them.