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PM Babiš: Zeman should sack office head Mynář, aide Nejedlý

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Prague, Jan 14 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman should get rid of Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar and his close aide Martin Nejedly and he should explain controversial cases from past five years of his presidency to the public, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told Prima TV on Sunday.

“The president seems to be too loyal to his collaborators,” he said.

Zeman has been acquainted with Babis’s statement, but he would not comment on it for now, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK.

Babis said this could improve Zeman’s image among people who oppose him.

“If I were in his place, I would carry out an inventory check of what happened in the office during the past five years, various affairs and controversies. I would present my point of view and try to explain it to people,” Babis said.

After the first round of the presidential election on Saturday, Babis expressed support for Zeman before the presidential runoff to which Zeman advanced along with Sciences Academy former head Jiri Drahos.

Drahos told public Czech Radio (CRo) on Sunday that he had also called on Zeman to take this step.

“I cannot understand why Andrej Babis did not tell this to Milos Zeman long ago, I have been talking about it during my whole campaign,” he said.

Drahos said he considers Babis’s statement “a part of some political game.”

Babis recommended to Zeman on Saturday to distance from some of his close aides who are widely known before the runoff, but he did not name anybody.

Babis said he himself had to end cooperation with his close cooperator, although he knew she was innocent. He had in mind controversial lobbyist Radmila Kleslova who temporarily occupied the post of deputy chairwoman of the ANO movement.

Following criticism in 2015, Kleslova ended her contract with the state-run power utility CEZ and resigned from paid posts in two major firms controlled by the Prague City Hall.

On Saturday, Zeman said pop singer Karel Gott was among those who supported his candidacy. But in reaction, Gott issued a statement that he did not explicitly support any candidate and that he has never done this before elections.

Ovcacek said Gott had told tabloid daily Blesk that he would support a man whom he respects and who would represent the country well again. Ovcacek added that he acknowledged Gott’s latest statement.

On Saturday, Babis also recommended that Zeman declare that his repeated presidential visits to China and Russia are motivated by his effort to promote Czech exporters and that he does not want to change the country’s focus from its western allies in the European Union and NATO to the East.

He said he was giving this advice, although Zeman did not consider him an expert in foreign policy.

Czech right-wing opposition leaders claimed Babis and Zeman made a power pact. Zeman lets ANO‘s minority cabinet rule the country in exchange for Babis’s support for his effort to be re-elected as president, the opposition said.

A Czech parliamentary session that is to take a confidence vote in Babis’s minority cabinet opened last Wednesday. No other party promised to back the cabinet in the vote that is likely to be held on Tuesday. In his address to the lower house session, Zeman supported Babis and repeatedly said he would appoint Babis prime minister again if his current cabinet fails to win the lower house’s support. However, Zeman also had reservations about the cabinet’s programme, said Babis did not seem to understand foreign policy and demanded that he prove in advance that a majority of the MPs back his next government.

Babis told Prima TV on Sunday can imagine cooperation with Drahos who may replace Zeman in presidential post, but he added that he expected that Drahos’s sponsors and supporters would try to influence politics through Drahos if he becomes the head of state.

He said it is good that Zeman, 73, decided to take part in debates with Drahos, 68, before the runoff because Zeman is an excellent speaker.

Before the first round of the elections, Zeman refused to take part in any discussion with the other presidential candidates. He was the only one who avoided him. He claimed he waged no campaign before the election, which his critics claimed was untrue. They also said Zeman avoided the discussions due to his bad health condition.

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