Wednesday, 20 February 2019

STAN leader: ANO prefers Babiš to gov't without Communists, SPD

24 January 2018

Prague, Jan 23 (CTK) - ANO, which insists on its head Andrej Babis as the only possible candidate for Czech PM, shows that it prefers protecting its leader to forming a cabinet without the support of the Communists (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), Jan Farsky (Mayors and Independents, STAN) said on Tuesday.

The Czech Republic will pay dearly for it, both at home and internationally, because it needs a stable government, Farsky, who heads the STAN deputies' group, told journalists.

The Social Democrats (CSSD), for their part, criticised outgoing Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) for not reacting to Babis's statements about the possibility to launch a criminal prosecution on someone's order.

Babis's ANO movement comfortably won the October 2017 general election, but Babis's minority cabinet failed to win the lower house's confidence last week.

Babis is expected to form another cabinet, and ANO has already started negotiations with some parties, including the Communists and the anti-EU SPD, on their possible entry into or toleration of the new government.

Farsky pointed out that [mainstream] parties such as the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are ready to negotiate on government cooperation with ANO, but the only obstacle to this is the prosecution Babis faces over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.

By insisting on Babis as prime minister, ANO says it prefers its leader to shunning the SPD and the KSCM as government allies, Farsky said.

This is unfortunate, because the format of Babis's second government-forming negotiations will be similar to his previous first attempt, he said.

The CSSD deputies' group chairman Jan Chvojka told journalists that Pelikan should react to Babis's statements about the possibility of prosecution launched on order in the Czech Republic.

Pelikan should specify the cases in question and identify those who have ended in prison on someone's order, otherwise he undermines people's confidence in the Czech judiciary, Chvojka said.

Later on Tuesday, Pelikan called the whole debate a storm in a teacup, and said he would not further blow it out of proportions by commenting on it.

He would not deny Babis's statement either, however.

"His statement was not as concrete as to enable me to confirm or deny it. If the question is whether criminal prosecution might have been launched based on a suspicious reason, it would probably be unwise to rule this out categorically in a country with 40,000 police officers and more than 1,000 state attorneys," Pelikan told CTK.

Also reacting to Babis's statement on Tuesday, TOP 09 proposed that a bill be passed to take the power of dismissing the supreme state attorney away from the government. If the supreme attorney failed, it should be up to a disciplinary panel to dismiss him, TOP 09 suggested.

On Sunday, Babis gave the prosecution of former Energy Regulation Office (ERU) Alena Vitaskova as an example of criminal proceedings launched on order. Her prosecution was ordered by the "solar mafia", he wrote on Facebook, adding that fortunately, there are impartial courts [that have acquitted Vitaskova].

"Clearly, a crushing majority of police, state attorneys and judges are honest. But there are also others," Babis wrote.

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