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For Babiš to be sacked, govt coalition pact must end first, Zeman says

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Prague, May 8 (CTK) – Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka’s proposal for President Milos Zeman to dismiss Finance Minister Andrej Babis is at variance with the government coalition agreement, which is why the agreement has to be abrogated for the dismissal to be feasible, Zeman’s spokesman said after a Zeman-Babis meeting yesterday.

Zeman received Babis, a deputy PM and chairman of the ANO movement, at the latter’s request.

On Friday, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) proposed to Zeman to dismiss Babis as of May 9 over suspected tax evasion and influencing of media.

“The proposal for the dismissal is at odds with the coalition agreement, which says that a member of the cabinet can be dismissed only if the respective party’s leadership gives its consent to it,” Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said on his behalf.

The coalition agreement was signed by the three partners in Sobotka’s centre-left cabinet, the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), before the cabinet’s establishment in early 2014.

Zeman also criticised the fact that he has received no proposal for Babis’s replacement, which is why the post of finance minister would remain vacant, Ovcacek said.

“The president would consider this extremely irresponsible,” he said.

On behalf of Zeman, he reproached Sobotka and his proposal for setting a concrete date by which Babis should be sacked.

“The president has stated that the prime minister cannot task the president by setting the dismissal date,” Ovcacek said.

However, government spokesman Martin Ayrer said earlier that Sobotka, in his capacity as PM, had handed a minister’s resignation or a proposal for a minister’s dismissal to Zeman seven times before, with all proposals containing the date of the respective minister’s end in office and with none of the proposals being challenged by Zeman.

The Presidential Office originally said it would not comment on Sobotka’s proposal today. Ovcacek, asserted that Zeman wants to calm down the situation.

Earlier this afternoon, Zeman told politicians that he will deal with the proposal for Babis’s dismissal only after his return from a visit to China, which is after May 18. The information was conveyed to the media by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) who met Zeman within the ceremonial promoting of new generals on the Victory anniversary.

Constitutional lawyers say the constitution does not offer many chances to Zeman not to sack Babis, and that Zeman should do so without any unnecessary delay. According to Sobotka, Zeman should do so within a few working days.

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