Friday, 18 April 2014

ČSSD: PM reshuffles cabinet to pay his debts

12 December 2012

Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has made a cabinet reshuffle only because he needs to fulfil the promises he made in order to stay in power, Social Democrats (opposition CSSD) deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek told journalists yesterday.

Necas is paying the debts he made around the ODS congress when both his position of ODS leader and the further functioning of his government were at stake, Zaoralek said.

On Monday, three new ministers are to be appointed. Deputy PM Karolina Peake (LIDEM) will be new defence minister, Zbynek Stanjura (ODS) new transport minister and Petr Mlsna (unaffiliated) a minister without portfolio heading the Government Legislative Council.

Peake will replace Alexandr Vondra (ODS) and Stanjura will replace Pavel Dobes (LIDEM). The ODS and LIDEM swapped the two ministers. In 2014, the Transport Ministry is to merge with the Industry and Trade Ministry, now led by Martin Kuba (ODS).

"If certain persons are getting stronger, it is because they played a crucial role in saving the government," Zaoralek said.

He recalled that Kuba achieved an agreement with a group of ODS rebellious MPs who threatened to topple the government by not supporting a tax package linked to a vote of confidence in parliament in early November.

Kuba joined the ODS leadership at the congress, winning the post of first deputy chairman, and the Transport Ministry should become part of his office in future, which would strengthen his position in the cabinet.

The other opposition party, the Communists (KSCM), criticised Peake's nomination for defence minister.

KSCM spokeswoman Vera Zezulkova said Peake was not acquainted with the defence sector. She pointed out that President Vaclav Klaus criticised Peake for being no expert on the military, but she said Klaus seemed to change his mind all of a sudden as he is willing to appoint her tomorrow.

KSCM deputies' group head Pavel Kovacik said it is not important who would be next transport minister because the government coalition does not have any personalities anyway.

Kovacik said he considers crucial whether the new minister would be able to deal with the bad financial situation of the state-controlled CD Cargo rail freight transport company and with other problems.

Petr Gazdik, head of the deputies' group of the junior government TOP 09, said his party respects the personnel changes made by Necas.

Gazdik nevertheless admitted that his party would prefer somebody who is more of an expert on the military than Peake to become the new defence minister.

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