Vsetin, South Moravia, April 11 (CTK) – Zlin Region’s Governor and Czech Senator Jiri Cunek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), who is considering running for party chairman in May, resigned from the post of mayor of the east Moravian town Vsetin today.

Cunek, 58, promised to give up the post last autumn after he was elected the governor of the region in which Vsetin is located. He was the town’s mayor in 1998-2007 and from December 2014 until now. As of today, he also stopped being a member of the municipal authority.

He has been a senator since 2006.

Cunek is highly popular in the Zlin Region, which is the KDU-CSL stronghold. He has challenged the election pact that the Christian Democrats recently made with the centrist Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement and warned of failure in the autumn general election. He openly supports a possible coalition government with the ANO movement, while KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek is highly critical of ANO leader, billionaire Andrej Babis.

Cunek was first deputy prime minister and regional development minister in 2007-2009 and KDU-CSL leader in roughly the same period of time, but he had to give up his government posts for six months due to a corruption affair. His criminal prosecution was halted under suspicious conditions. The opposition parties said the reasons were political.

Cunek became known for various controversies. He campaigned against misuse of welfare benefits by Romany families, but then it surfaced that he was a recipient of welfare in the 1990s, although he had deposited millions of crowns in his account then. As Vsetin mayor, he moved Romany rent defaulters out of the town’s centre in 2006, which made him popular among part of the Czech public, but caused uproar among NGOs and criticism by the Ombudsman Office. A former secretary of the mayor’s office accused him of sexual harassment in the 2000s.