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Drahoš: Zeman fails to approach gov’t appointment like statesman

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Prague, Jan 24 (CTK) – Milos Zeman’s approach to the naming of a new PM and cabinet is not statesmanlike as he plans to act differently if he is re-elected Czech president and if he loses the race, his rival in presidential election runoff, academic Jiri Drahos, told Czech Television on Wednesday.

Instead of seeking a benefit for the Czech Republic, Zeman seeks the benefit of its own, which he should not do as a statesman, Drahos said in reaction to Zeman’s statements on Wednesday.

Zeman assigned Andrej Babis, leader of the election-winning ANO movement, to launch government-forming negotiations. He said if he were not re-elected president this weekend, he would no longer require signatures of a majority of lawmakers from Babis before appointing him PM-designate, a condition he set for Babis’s appointment several weeks ago.

Zeman said if not re-elected, he would appoint Babis PM in February, still before his presidential mandate expires on March 8.

Drahos said Zeman’s decision did not surprise him, since the only firm stance of Zeman is his changing of stances.

“He seeks his own benefit, rather than the benefit of the Czech Republic,” Drahos said.

Nevertheless, he said he did not expect Zeman linking his prompt appointment of Babis as PM to his own failure to be re-elected.

“In my opinion, a statesman should not act this way, saying that he would react differently if not re-elected. He should take the state’s benefit into account. However, this [behaviour] has not taken me by surprise in the case of Milos Zeman,” Drahos said.

He said the Czech Republic needs a stable government and that he considers a minority government an emergency solution.

“If I become president, it will depend on what the cabinet’s situation will be. Milos Zeman said he would appoint a new government in February. If I win, I may face the situation where the PM and the cabinet will have been appointed. In such a situation, the president does not have many chances,” Drahos said.

Babis formed an ANO minority government in December but it resigned recently after it lost a confidence vote in parliament. Zeman accepted its resignation on Wednesday and assigned Babis with conducting government-forming talks with other parties.

Drahos said he dislikes it that Babis, who faces prosecution over a suspected EU subsidy fraud, should be prime minister.

“If I were the president, I would suppose that the ANO movement is capable of proposing another [candidate for PM]. Even Andrej Babis has admitted that he does not have to be prime minister,” Drahos said.

If Babis did not insist on being PM, a potential would exist for reaching agreement on a coalition government, Drahos added.

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