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Ex-PM Topolánek says Zeman’s steps made him run for president

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Prague, Nov 7 (CTK) – Former Czech PM Mirek Topolanek has decided to run for president in reaction to the incumbent President Milos Zeman’s steps which he disapproves, he told a press conference on Tuesday, adding that as president he would unite people and respect the rules.

In the January direct presidential race, Zeman will seek re-election for another five-year term.

Topolanek, who was a Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister in 2006-2009 and has switched to the business sector and left the ODS in the meantime, ruled out the possibility of granting presidential pardon, if elected, to his former close aide Marek Dalik, a lobbyist convicted of fraud.

In connection with his candidacy, Topolanek is suspending his activities in companies belonging to the Energeticky a prumyslovy holding (EPH) giant, he said.

Topolanek said he respects Zeman, former Social Democrat (CSSD) leader (1993-2001) and prime minister (1998-2002) for his previous performance in politics.

He said he wants Zeman to enter history as the PM who led the country to NATO, not as a president who violated constitutional habits and kowtowed undemocratic big powers.

The last straw for Topolanek, which motivated him to seek presidency, was last week’s press conference of Zeman and Andrej Babis, leader of the general-election-winning ANO movement, at which Zeman promised to give Babis both the first and second try to form a new government, and backed the planned birth of ANO’s minority government.

Topolanek said his previous experience in politics makes a competent candidate of him.

He pledged to observe the constitutional rules.

“I offer personal integrity and respect for the rules, and in this connection I offer behaviour respecting the constitution as against unconstitutional behaviour, and standard steps as against non-standard ones,” Topolanek said, probably alluding to Zeman, whose steps as president often raise controversies.

He said he does not suffer from pathological addiction to power.

As president, Topolanek said he would observe the rules and fair-play both in political debates and in the post of president. He would not seek to take vengeance on either his former opponents or Babis, who labelled him the most corrupt Czech politician earlier on Tuesday.

Topolanek presented himself as a man capable of uniting society. His biggest advantage is that he has drawn a lesson from his previous mistakes and would never repeat them, he said.

Furthermore, he disagrees with the verdict finding Dalik guilty of fraud, but he respects it. Ruling out the possibility of pardoning Dalik as president, he said presidential pardons are designed for seriously ill people only, which is not the case of Dalik.

Topolanek said he has established a transparent account, in which there is 100,000 crowns for now, a sum he has deposited himself. He thanked his possible sponsors beforehand and said he would accept transparent gifts only.

EPH spokesman Daniel Castvaj ruled out yesterday that EPH could be the main or a large source of Topolanek’s campaign financing.

In recent time, Topolanek has been a member of the board of Eustream, Slovakia’s monopoly gas transport utility, and head of the supervisory board of the Elektrarny Opatovice energy company, a part of the EPH.

Castvaj announced that Topolanek has suspended his performance in the above posts.

Martin Hajek, director of the Teplarenske sdruzeni heating industry association, said Topolanek has also suspended his chairmanship of the association’s executive board.

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