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Education Minister Valachová announces resignation

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Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Czech Education, Youth and Sports Minister Katerina Valachova (Social Democrats, CSSD) is going to resign as of May 31, she tweeted today, adding that she does not want to give Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) a pretext for diverting attention from his serious problems.

In recent days, some politicians called on Valachova to resign over a scandal around a suspected misuse of the ministry’s subsidies going to sport organisations and associations.

“I want to boost political culture that has been promoted by the CSSD. That is why I will resign from the post of education minister,” Valachova said.

Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka thanked Valachova for the responsible decision she made for the sake of decent political culture.

Valachova said she has offered her resignation to Sobotka on her own initiative.

She does not want the current situation at the ministry to be misused “in political squabbling” or anti-CSSD arguments ahead of the October 20-21 general election.

President Milos Zeman will meet Valachova after his May 18 return from a visit to China, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said.

Deputy Education Minister Simona Kratochvilova was accused within the sport subsidy misuse scandal and taken into custody late last week, as was Czech Football Association chairman Miroslav Pelta.

Babis, whose resignation Sobotka proposed to Zeman on Friday over suspected tax evasion and unacceptable influencing of media, says he can see no reason for himself to leave and that Sobotka’s CSSD has launched a campaign against him in an effort to eliminate him as leader of ANO, the country’s most popular party.

The tension escalated on Sunday with Zeman saying he would not sack Babis for now.

Constitutional lawyers have agreed that the constitution binds the president to dismiss a minister at the PM’s request.

In reaction to Valachova, Babis said today he views her resignation as further pressure exerted on ANO.

She has resigned in order to prevent a public debate on CSSD official Karel Brezina as the mastermind of corruption at the Education Ministry, Babis said.

Sobotka, on his part, appreciated Valachova’s decision.

“She had the courage to accept political responsibility for the problem surrounding [the ministry’s sport] subsidising programme,” he said.

Unlike other ministers, Valachova accepted responsibility though she is not linked to the controversial case, Sobotka said in an obvious allusion to Babis.

He said he wants to meet Valachova to thank her for her achievements as a minister and discuss the situation at the ministry. Only afterwards, he will choose her replacement.

Other CSSD politicians but also opposition deputies have praised Valachova’s step as correct, responsible, respectful and showing her political culture.

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