Liberec, North Bohemia, May 9 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman insists that Finance Minister and Deputy PM Andrej Babis (ANO) can be dismissed only after the coalition agreement is terminated, he said at the beginning of his three-day visit to the Liberec Region yesterday.
PM and Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka voluntarily gave up part of his powers by signing the coalition pact between the government parties, the CSSD, Babis’s ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Zeman said during a discussion with regional representatives.
However, many of them criticised him for his interpretation of the constitution and his behaviour during the current government crisis.
Zeman added that after Sobotka announced the resignation of his government last week, he wanted to appoint Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) a new head of government.
Sobotka changed his mind later and instead of offering his resignation he sent a proposal to dismiss Babis to Zeman. Sobotka explained his decision saying Zeman interpreted the constitution in the way that only he, the prime minister, should leave the government, which would not resolve the government crisis caused by Babis’s financial scandals.
According to Zeman, the government did not approve the resignation, it did not debate it at all and this is why it only applies to the prime minister.
Babis rejects the accusations and he calls them a targeted campaign against him.
Zaoralek tweeted today that the Czech Republic has its prime minister.
“There is no need to speculate about any other alternatives. I will try to contribute to the quickest possible solution to this internal political crisis. I am not shooting for any other post,” he wrote.
Zeman said he knows the constitution very well and that he respects the prime minister’s right to propose a dismissal of any government member.
However, he pointed out that according to the coalition pact, the PM would do so only if the chairman of the respective coalition party agreed with the minister’s dismissal. This is Babis in this case, he added.
“I do not say I will not respect this. I have just put it clearly that the obstacle by which the PM has voluntarily limited himself must be removed first,” Zeman said in Liberec.
Sobotka said on Monday that the constitution clearly says “the President of the Republic dismisses a member of the cabinet if the prime minister proposed it.” It contains no further conditions, he added.
He called on Zeman to respect the constitution and accept his proposal for Babis’s dismissal.
MP and regional assemblyman Jan Farsky (Mayors for Liberec Region) called on Zeman to do so as well today, referring to the article 74 of the constitution. Other participants in the meeting with Zeman expressed a similar view.
Some ten opponents were waiting for Zeman when he arrived in the Liberec Regional Office. They were whistling and carried banners reading “Sack Babis.”