Monday, 19 February 2018

KSČM returns to talks on gov't with Babiš after lithium dispute

ČTK |
2 February 2018

Prague, Feb 1 (CTK) - The Communist Party (KSCM) has returned to the talks with the ANO movement about a possible next Czech government, KSCM chairman Filip said after meeting ANO leader Andrej Babis, currently the prime minister in resignation, adding that they discussed lithium mining on Tursday.

Originally, the KSCM and ANO negotiating teams were to meet on Thursday, but the Communists got angry over Industry Minister Tomas Huner's (for ANO) statement about a planned addition to a memorandum on lithium mining in the Czech Republic. Due to the dispute, only the leaders of the two parties met.

"The protection of the Czech natural resources is crucial for us. To continue with a void document was absolutely unacceptable for the KSCM," Filip said.

Earlier this week, Babis criticised Huner for bad communication about the memorandum which he said is invalid.

The government assigned Huner to negotiate the legally unbinding character of the document that the Industry Ministry signed with the European Metals Holdings (EMH), an Australian company, in 2017.

Filip said the the KSCM is working on its own analysis of the licences for lithium mining.

He said the Communist priorities in the government's programme are a rise in the minimum wage and pensions, welfare, protection of natural resources and water, getting water resources under public control and introduction of a general referendum.

Experts from both parties would again start meeting as of next week. On Tuesday, a meeting on the referendum is to be held, Filip said.

He said it was important whether the Social Democrats (CSSD) would start negotiating with ANO about the government or not. He said this would become clear only after the CSSD election congress scheduled for February 18.

The ANO movement of billionaire Babis clearly won the Czech general election last October, gaining 78 MPs in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. As Babis's minority cabinet failed to win support from the Chamber in mid-January, his team had to resign. President Milos Zeman gave Babis a second chance to form a stable government. The KSCM has 15 MPs, same as the CSSD. The three parties would have a comfortable majority in the Chamber. After the election, ANO won key votes in the Chamber thanks to support from the KSCM and the right-wing populist Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) which has 22 MPs.

Since of the fall of the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1989, the KSCM has never been part of the central government.

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