The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp

Thousands rally against Czech government across country

Related

Thousands of protesters rallied across the Czech Republic Monday against the outgoing cabinet led by the second wealthiest Czech, Andrej Babis, a billionaire with a murky past.<br />Photo: The Vostokian

Thousands of protesters rallied across the Czech Republic Monday against the outgoing cabinet led by the second wealthiest Czech, Andrej Babis, a billionaire with a murky past.

“We’ve had enough,” chanted a crowd of about 5,000 in Prague’s central Wenceslas Square while other protesters gathered in other cities across the EU member country of 10.6 million people.

“We want a decent government,” they shouted.

Babis’s ANO (YES) movement won a general election last October. securing 78 seats in the 200-member parliament after an anti-corruption campaign, but the food, chemicals and media tycoon has failed to put together a majority administration.

He came up with a minority government of ANO members and unaffiliated experts but failed to win parliamentary confidence in January and the cabinet resigned, although it will remain in office until a new team is named.

Potential political partners have turned their backs on Babis, who is facing police charges over an EU subsidy fraud and allegations that he had served as a Communist secret police agent before the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.

“It is unacceptable to have a prosecuted man and a registered Communist secret police agent as prime minister,” the organisers of the protest said on Facebook, calling on Babis to step down.

“It’s plain and simple — I’m here because I don’t want a Communist agent for prime minister,” young Prague construction worker Jaroslav Pospichal told AFP at the rally.

Babis’s final attempt at forming a cabinet failed last week after the leftwing Social Democrats, who led the previous Czech government with ANO as a junior partner, snubbed him over personnel issues, raising the possibility of early elections.

The Slovak-born chemical, food and media tycoon is facing criminal charges over alleged 2007 EU subsidy fraud to the tune of two million euros ($2.5 million) linked to his sprawling Agrofert holding company.

He has flatly denied any wrongdoing and insists the case is politically motivated.

The man in the spotlight now is President Milos Zeman, a pro-Russian, pro-Chinese and anti-Muslim veteran leftwinger and Babis’s ally, who is due to meet Babis on Tuesday.

Zeman, who was elected to a second five-year term in January, has two attempts to name a prime minister under the constitution.

Since Zeman has now merely asked Babis to form a new cabinet and has not officially appointed him prime minister, he could still tap someone else to assemble a government.

Czech media have mentioned Richard Brabec, a deputy prime minister and environment minister from ANO, as a likely candidate.

ANO would be expected to win a snap vote by a broad margin, although the latest poll by the Kantar TNS agency for Czech Television saw its support drop to 29.5 percent in March.


In this article:
Andrej BabisCzechrally
Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

No comments yet