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article imageCzech cabinet to hand in resignation on January 24

By AFP     Jan 18, 2018 in Politics

Czech President Milos Zeman will accept the resignation of the minority Czech government led by billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis on January 24, the president's office said on Thursday.

Babis, whose ANO (YES) movement scored a landslide win in a general election last October, formed a cabinet comprising ANO members and unaffiliated experts, but the team lost a parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday.

"Mr President had a phone call with the prime minister today and they agreed the resignation will be submitted on January 24," Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said on Twitter.

Zeman said he would give Babis a second try in line with the constitution which hands the president two attempts, leaving the third and final try to the parliament speaker, who is a member of Babis's ANO.

But he also said he wanted Babis to secure the necessary backing in parliament for his second government.

The constitution also allows Babis's outgoing cabinet to continue as a fully-fledged government despite the resignation.

Babis, a 63-year-old Slovak-born chemicals, food and media tycoon dubbed "the Czech Trump", has already started talks on parliamentary backing for his second cabinet, or even a coalition.

Potential partners have so far turned their backs on Babis, who is facing charges of EU subsidy fraud after allegedly pulling his Stork Nest farm out of his sprawling Agrofert holding to make it eligible for a small-company subsidy in 2007 before eventually putting it back.

The parliament will vote on stripping Babis of immunity as a lawmaker on Friday. Babis, the second wealthiest Czech, asked lawmakers to do so on Tuesday, claiming he had nothing to hide.

The pro-Russian Zeman is up for re-election in a presidential run-off on January 26-27 after clinching pole position in round one last weekend, setting up a final clash against pro-European Jiri Drahos, a former academic, who has said a prime minister facing police charges was a problem for him.

Babis told his DNES daily on Thursday he wanted his second cabinet named by Zeman, whose term of office expires on March 8.

"It's hard to tell when, maybe before the end of February," Babis said, adding that Drahos might refuse to name him which could result in "destabilisation and a crisis".

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