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Former controversial MP Kraus joins Czech ČSSD leadership

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Prague, April 8 (CTK) – Michal Kraus, who resigned as a Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) lawmaker in 2006 over his trip to Ghana linked to suspected money laundering, became a member of the CSSD board today, elected by the party’s Central Executive Committee, the CSSD press department told the media.

Kraus, 59, who formerly headed the CSSD group of deputies, left the Chamber of Deputies over his visit to Ghana, where he and Czech entrepreneur Frantisek Rigo negotiated investments in a cocoa bean procession plant in 2001.

Kraus was suspected of money laundering, an attempted fraud and later also of corruption.

The police eventually shelved the case.

CSSD chairman and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka emphasised that the Central Executive Committee members elected Kraus in a secret ballot today.

“It was up to them to decide. Most delegates came to the conclusion that his [Kraus’s] ‘quarantine’ was long enough,” Sobotka said.

CSSD deputy chairman and election manager Jan Birke does not consider Kraus’s election a problem either.

“It does not mean that he is returning to top politics. The party board is a body comprised of 35 members. Besides, there is the Central Executive Committee and the CSSD’s narrow leadership. I would not assess it that dramatically,” Birke said, referring to Kraus’s election.

The board’s other members elected today include several deputies, such as Jaroslav Foldyna, and several former senators such as Alena Gajduskova.

The CSSD board manages the party between the Central Executive Committee meetings. It is comprised of the party chairperson, deputy chairpersons, heads of the CSSD groups of deputies and senators, representatives of regions and another ten members.

The board’s most important role is its assistance in completing the party’s lists of election candidates.

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