Thursday, 14 November 2019

People protest against Babiš, Zeman outside Prague Castle

ČTK |
12 May 2017

Prague, May 11 (CTK) - Hundreds of people gathered in the square outside the Prague Castle, which is the presidential seat, to protest against President Milos Zeman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) yesterday.

The protest followed a massive demonstration held in the city's centre on Wednesday, in which roughly 20,000 people took part. Similar protests were held in six other Czech towns yesterday.

The protesters today signed a petition demanding that Babis leave the government. The speakers called on Czech politicians to try to resolve the government crisis. The CTK reporter did not register any incidents during the one-hour protest.

The next demonstration against Babis and Zeman is to be held in Prague's centre on Wednesday, May 17.

Last week, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) proposed Babis's dismissal to President Milos Zeman, but Zeman said he would deal with the proposal only after his visit to China. Zeman left for China this evening and he will return next Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Czech parliament issued a resolution declaring that Babis openly lied and abused his media in order to discredit his political rivals. The parliament's session also urged Zeman to act in complete accordance with the constitution and without any hesitations.

Under the Czech constitution, the president, whose role in the political system is rather formal, dismisses a minister at the prime minister's request. However, Zeman presented his own interpretation, challenging the established political practice.

Earlier this year, the billionaire Babis had to transfer his giant Agrofert holding, including business companies and media outlets, to trust funds because of a new conflict of interest law. Zeman challenged the new law at the Constitutional Court.

In reaction to the Wednesday protests, PM Sobotka said he appreciated how many people all over the country stood in defence of the constitution, democracy and political culture.

Zeman, who ended his tour of the Liberec Region today, criticised the people who protested against him in Liberec on Wednesday for their gross language. He said he has seen a number of demonstrations against himself, but all the protests died out after a time.

Due to Zeman's vulgar statements, the public Czech Radio (CRo) decided in late 2014 that it would not broadcast live interviews with him anymore. Zeman then stopped cooperating with CRo and started giving interviews to a commercial station.

kva/dr/rtj

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