Prague, May 11 (CTK) – Czech ANO chairman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis said today ANO is going to propose a candidate for new finance minister and he called on PM Bohuslav Sobotka to convoke a meeting of the Coalition Council, comprised of the three government parties’ leaders, as soon as possible.
He said ANO wants the meeting to discuss solutions to the present government crisis, but he did not say he will resign as finance minister and deputy PM.
On Friday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) proposed to President Milos Zeman to dismiss Babis over suspected tax evasion and influencing media. Zeman has not complied with the proposal yet.
Babis repeated that he can see no reason for himself to leave the cabinet.
“Nevertheless, I respect the prime minister’s right to dismiss me and that he has proposed my dismissal,” Babis said, adding that he does not want to be a bone of contention between the president and the prime minister.
He would not comment on whether he will leave the cabinet on his own, which he repeatedly refused to do before.
“We want the crisis to end as quickly as possible and the government to complete its term in office. That is why we will propose someone else for the post of finance minister,” Babis said.
He would not give the candidate’s name, saying he will tell it to Sobotka in writing first.
On Wednesday, ANO deputy head Jaroslav Faltynek mentioned current Deputy Finance Minister Alena Schillerova as a possible candidate.
Babis said the solution he is presenting is not identical with the proposal Zeman made to the three coalition parties’ representatives on Wednesday.
Zeman then spoke about a possible calling of early elections or the present government’s continuation without Babis and Sobotka.
The third partner in Sobotka’s centre-left cabinet are the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
The next regular general election is due on October 20-21, with Babis’s ANO movement being a hot favourite.
Once again, Babis rejected the criticism he faces over financial transactions concerning the Agrofert Holding, which he owned before transferring it to trust funds in February, and over audio recordings that show him discuss planned articles aimed against his political rivals with a journalist from Mlada fronta Dnes, a daily falling under Agrofert.