Friday, 21 September 2018

Babiš to seek Ondráček's dismissal as GIBS commission head

ČTK |
5 March 2018

Prague, March 4 (CTK) - Czech PM Andrej Babis (ANO) plans to propose the dismissal of Communist (KSCM) deputy Zdenek Ondracek as head of the lower house commission supervising the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS), and he would vote for the step if proposed by someone else, he has written on Facebook.

Ondracek raised controversies as a former member of the pre-1989 raid police unit intervening against anti-communist demonstrations.

Some critics accuse ANO of having helped elect Ondracek in the lower house's secret vote on Friday, together with the KSCM and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD).

Babis, in his Facebook statement, mentioned the absence of the Democratic Bloc lawmakers from the Chamber of Deputies' session on Friday, who, if present, could have prevented Ondracek's election.

Babis himself did not take part in the vote either. He excused himself from the session.

Ondracek was elected by votes of 79 deputies, while at least 78 were needed for him to succeed.

The KSCM, which nominated him to the post, has 15 seats in the Chamber. The KSCM nominated him twice before in December and January, but the Chamber turned his candidacy down both times.

Seven deputies from the Democratic Bloc, which is comprised of the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and which resolutely opposed Ondracek's nomination, were absent from the vote.

In addition, eight Social Democrat (CSSD) and six Pirate deputies were absent.

Of the 78 deputies of ANO, which is the far-strongest party in the lower house, a total of 13 were absent, including Babis.

"I am curious whether they will propose the dismissal of Ondracek. If so, I will naturally vote for his dismissal," Babis wrote, adding that he is going to persuade the ANO deputies' group to follow suit.

"If no one else proposed it, I would do so myself," he wrote.

Demonstrations in 11 towns across the Czech Republic will be held on Monday evening in protest against the election of Ondracek.

In reaction to Babis, ODS chairman Petr Fiala tweeted that the ODS is going to propose Ondracek's dismissal.

"I believe that the prime minister will keep his word. We [ANO and the ODS] have 103 votes together [in the 200-seat Chamber], let's do it," Fiala wrote.

KSCM chairman Vojtech Filip told CTK that he would not comment on Babis's statements before they meet to discuss the issue.

KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said ANO had never spoken against Ondracek before. "Only now, when people are taking to the streets, Babis is pragmatically changing his mind and wants to dismiss Ondracek," Jurecka tweeted.

Similarly, ODS deputy chairwoman Alexandra Udzenija called Babis a hypocrite surfing on the wave of people's dissatisfaction.

STAN chairman Petr Gazdik welcomed Babis's approach but said much efforts could have been spared if ANO had not supported Ondracek in the Friday ballot.

TOP 09 deputies' group head Miroslav Kalousek called Babis's statement the peak of cynicism.

"An StB member at the head of the cabinet is thousand times more dangerous than a rough at the head of the commission for the supervision of GIBS," Kalousek told CTK, alluding to archive files of the former communist secret police (StB), in which Babis figures as the StB's collaborator. He says his name figures in the files unrightfully and seeks clearance of StB cooperation, but a Slovak court recently rejected his complaint.

The demonstrations on Monday must also be aimed against Babis and his StB-like cynicism, Kalousek said.

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