Tuesday, November 28

Czech politics in crisis when police called in sick aide to the president | Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is facing a full-blown political crisis after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš demanded the resignation of the country’s seriously ill chief aide to the president, and police said they were investigating possible “criminal offenses against the republic. “.

On Tuesday, the Senate constitutional committee voted unanimously in favor of suspending the powers of the president, Miloš Zeman.

The issue is scheduled to go to a vote in the full Senate on November 5, and the Chamber of Deputies is expected to vote on the same issue when it returns for its first post-election session three days later. A simple majority is needed in each chamber to transfer the powers of the president.

The stirring chain of events threatened to further complicate the country’s prolonged post-election limbo after this month’s elections led to a shocking defeat of Babiš’s ruling ANO (Action for Dissatisfied Citizens) party and created the need to form a new one. government coalition.

The trigger for police involvement followed revelations that doctors treating the president, Miloš Zeman, who is in intensive care at Prague’s central military hospital, judged him too ill to fulfill his presidential duties and described his prognosis as “very uncertain”.

However, under the supervision of Zeman’s office boss Vratislav Mynář, at least one official was secretly allowed to see the ill president, despite credible and widely publicized accounts that his illness had left him confused.

Zeman’s diagnosis has not been made public, but Czech media, citing well-placed medical sources, have reported that he may be suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, a condition associated with liver failure that is said to affect intellectual functioning. Reports said he was being treated in the department of anesthesiology and resuscitation, which provides the highest level of intensive care and vital organ support.

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Zeman, 77, was admitted to the hospital on October 10, a day after two opposition blocs won the elections, the center-right Spolu (Together) and the liberal PirStan alliance, who immediately opened negotiations to form a new coalition.

However, the constitutional power to choose who should form a government rests with Zeman, an ally of Babiš, who has previously said that the right should go to the largest party, in this case ANO.

The latest revelation about Zeman’s health, after weeks of obfuscation from office, increased the clamor for parliament to suspend his powers and fueled speculation that he may have to resign, sparking an early presidential election in which Babiš leans heatedly to Be a leading contender.

It also stepped up the spotlight on Mynář, who was accused of concealing Zeman’s true state of health while continuing to give access to leading political figures even after doctors advised him against it.

Mynář’s role came under scrutiny after the president of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, told reporters that the president’s doctor had informed him in writing that Zeman was too ill to work. The doctor, Miroslav Zavoral, who is also director of the central military hospital, said the same information had been given to Mynář last Wednesday, according to Vystrčil, who had previously received no response after requesting similar details from the president’s office. But Mynář continued to organize meetings from then on.

“In view of the new information published at the press conference [held by Vystrčil], the police of the Czech Republic will launch an investigation into a possible illegal act, in which indications of criminal offenses against the Republic can be seen, ”the Czech police tweeted. The alleged crimes were not specified, but Czech Radio reported that such crimes included treason, subversion and sabotage.

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Police attention appeared to be focused, at least in part, on a visit last Thursday by Radek Vondráček, the outgoing speaker of the lower house of parliament, the chamber of deputies, without the permission or knowledge of doctors and a day after he Mynář was informed of the president’s situation. inability to work.

Vondráček received a signed order from Zeman for the newly elected parliament to enter session on November 8, the latest date allowed by the constitution. The outgoing parliament will meet for the last time on Thursday.

The visit sparked a complaint at the hospital to the police, who later announced that officers would prevent unauthorized persons from seeing Zeman. Police also announced an investigation into suspicions that the signature of the parliamentary order had been forged after a whistleblower said it did not resemble Zeman’s handwriting.

ANO member Vondráček has vehemently denied the forgery allegations, but his visit has been criticized by Babiš, who has since said that he will not accept any invitation from Zeman to form a new government and has vowed to help a transition smoothly, a stance that some analysts say is designed to pave the way for a presidential race.

On Tuesday, Babiš urged Mynář to resign and said he would fire him if parliament suspended the president’s powers by invoking article 66 of the constitution, according to which some of the president’s responsibilities would pass to the prime minister.

“The whole situation that has arisen here is inappropriate and unacceptable activity on the part of Chancellor Mynář … it would be better if he resigned immediately,” Babis said. iDNES.cz website.

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