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PM Sobotka calls on President Zeman to respect constitution

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Prague, May 8 (CTK) – The president dismisses a member of the cabinet if the prime minister proposed it, and the constitution sets no other conditions for the dismissal, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said via his spokesman today and called on President Zeman to respect the constitution.

Sobotka (ČSSD), who on Friday proposed to Zeman to sack Finance Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) over suspected tax evasion and influencing of media, was reacting to a statement the Presidential Office made after a Zeman-Babiš meeting yesterday afternoon. Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said Sobotka’s proposal for the dismissal of Babis is at odds with the coalition pact between the three government parties and that the pact would have to be abrogated first for the dismissal to be feasible.

“The constitution’s Article 74 clearly says: the President of the Republic dismisses a member of the cabinet if the prime minister proposed it. The constitution contains no further conditions,” Sobotka said via his spokesman Martin Ayrer.

“I want to call on the president once again to respect our country’s fundamental law. The coalition agreement has nothing to do with this, it is neither a law nor a constitutional law, and its implementation and interpretation is a business of the three coalition parties, not of the president,” Sobotka added.

The partners in Sobotka’s government are his CSSD, Babis’s ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) of Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek.

Also reacting to Zeman, Belobradek said the constitution does not mention the coalition agreement.

Ovcacek, asked by CTK whether the Presidential Office’s latest statement means that Zeman will not sack Babis, said “the text of the statement means just what it contains.”

By starting political consultations, the president is fulfilling his constitutional duties, Ovcacek added.

Constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela said the text of the constitution, not the coalition pact, is binding on the president, who therefore has to dismiss a minister if the prime minister proposed it.

Kysela said the coalition agreement is binding on the prime minister, not the president to whom it is meaningless because he does not participate in it.

The coalition agreement sets the coalition’s possible end as a sanction for its violation, which is an aspect that may interest the president in connection with the government’s future existence. “Nevertheless, not even this interest is a condition for the president to meet or not to meet the PM’s proposal,” Kysela emphasised.

He said there is no relevant and legally recognisable reason for Zeman to delay Babis’s dismissal due to the coalition pact.

Another lawyer, Jan Kudrna, too, said that no pact can stand above the constitution.


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