Czech PM announces government resignation

2017-05-03 05:15
Bohuslav Sobotka. (Ondrej Deml, AP)

Bohuslav Sobotka. (Ondrej Deml, AP)

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Prague - The Czech Republic's prime minister unexpectedly announced on Tuesday that his government will resign over unexplained business dealings of the country's finance minister.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that he would meet President Milos Zeman this week to formally submit the government's resignation.

Sobotka's move caught political observers by surprise, but reflects tensions in the ruling coalition about six months before the next scheduled parliamentary election.

Sobotka said there are suspicions that Finance Minister Andrej Babis, the country's second-richest businessman, avoided paying taxes in the past. Doubts have also surfaced about how Babis obtained his wealth.

Babis is a rival of Sobotka's and heads a centrist movement that is a favourite to win October's ballot, paving the way for him to become prime minister. He previously denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign.

Under the constitution, the country's president fires cabinet ministers at the prime minister's request. Zeman indicated recently it made no sense to him to get rid of a government member so close to the election.

Sobotka said it would be an option to fire Babis but that would mean his rival would be given extra time to campaign ahead of the vote.


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