Sunday, 18 November 2018

Zeman: Both Poche, Hamáček were on list of ministers

ČTK |
29 June 2018

Prague, June 28 (CTK) - Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) presented a list of ministers of the new government to President Milos Zeman with two candidates for foreign minister, MEP Miroslav Poche and Jan Hamacek (both Social Democrats, CSSD), Zeman told the Barrandov television station on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Zeman entrusted Hamacek, the Social Democrat leader and also the new interior minister, with temporarily heading the Foreign Ministry.

"There was a preliminary list with no foreign minister and another one, basically a letter from Babis in which he proposed two foreign ministers, first Poche, and if I do not accept him, Hamacek," Zeman said, adding that he had complied with the second proposal.

The circumstances of the appointment were not yet clear. There were the speculations that Babis at first submitted a list along with Poche, rejected by Zeman, and then with Hamacek, after Zeman had refused to name Poche.

Neither Hamacek nor Babis explained the situation on Thursday. Babis only repeated that he had only passed one list with ministers including Poche to Zeman.

Hamacek said when the government was appointed, the constitution was not violated.

The naming of the foreign minister was criticised by the opposition and some Social Democrats. Their Prague organisation called on the party board to insist on Poche's appointment.

Zeman said he was against Poche because he supported migrants and over corruption allegations.

Out of the new government members, Zeman stressed the change at the post of justice minister, left by Robert Pelikan who was succeeded by Tatana Mala (both ANO).

He said Mala should be given a chance.

Zeman said Pelikan had not "behaved loyally to the president."

Zeman alluded to the case of Russian hacker Yevgeni Nikulin.

The extradition of Nikulin, who was arrested in Prague in the autumn of 2016, was sought by both the USA and Russia.

This March, Prague extradited him to the USA based on the decision Pelikan made after the Constitutional Court (US) rejected Nikulin's complaint against his expected extradition.

In the USA, Nikulin is suspected of vast hacking attacks on social networks. Russia, on its part, accuses him of minor online offences.

Zeman had asked Pelikan to release Nikulin to Russia.

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