Monday, 23 April 2018

Zeman to appoint Babiš PM on Dec 6, his cabinet on Dec 13

ČTK |
29 November 2017

Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will appoint Andrej Babis (ANO) prime minister-designate on December 6 and the new cabinet on December 13, Babis said after their meeting on Tuesday, adding that at Zeman's request he would not release the new ministers' names for now.

Zeman wants to meet the ministerial candidates first. He voiced no reservations about the list of candidates on Tuesday, Babis said.

The new cabinet is to have 15 seats, including the PM's.

Babis said nine of the ministers were members of a cabinet never before. The cabinet will include four women, he said.

Zeman originally planned to appoint Babis's cabinet around December 15. Babis asked for an earlier date on Tuesday, since scheduling the event for December 15 would complicate Czech participation in the upcoming EU summit.

If the cabinet is appointed sooner, Babis can represent the Czech Republic at the summit for the first time.

"I think I should not release the names of [the new] ministers now that the current cabinet is only going to hand in their resignation tomorrow. In addition, I promised the president [not to release the names]," Babis said.

He said the ministers will be people who worked in their respective sectors, which is why it will not take them long to acquaint themselves with the ministerial agenda.

Babis, who was finance minister until recently, previously said his new cabinet will also include the other five ministers who represented ANO in the 17-seat outgoing cabinet, who are Environment Minister Richard Brabec, Transport Minister Dan Tok, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan and Regional Development Minister Karla Slechtova.

Not all of them will keep the same posts in the new government, Babis previously said, but he did not elaborate in this respect on Tuesday.

Babis's cabinet might have the highest representation of women since 1993 when the independent Czech Republic was established.

Four female ministers were also in Mirek Topolanek's cabinet ten years ago, which, however, had a total of 18 members, three more than the planned cabinet of Babis.

After his cabinet is appointed, Babis wants to negotiate with other parties about their support for or toleration of it. He would not say for now whether he will ask the Chamber of Deputies for a confidence motion before the end of the year.

The Chamber has to take a vote of confidence on a new government within 30 days following its appointment. If Babis used the farthest deadline, the Chamber would take the vote on his cabinet shortly before the first round of the direct presidential election scheduled for January 12-13.

The only party to show readiness to tolerate Babis's cabinet on certain conditions are the Communists (KSCM). However, the KSCM has 15 deputies in the 200-seat lower house, and its votes, in addition with ANO's 78, are not enough for the cabinet to make it through.

Other parties say they are ready to discuss the names of ministers and the government's policy statement with Babis, but none of them has promised to support or tolerate his cabinet and all voice various reservations about ANO's programme or Babis as prime minister.

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