Czech PM to tell coalition if he accepts FinMin nominee on Monday

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2017 9:27 AM

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he would tell coalition partners on Monday morning whether he would accept a proposed replacement for the finance minister whose disputed dismissal has shaken the government only five months before elections.

Sobotka has demanded the dismissal of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire businessman, over allegations he may have dodged taxes and influenced content at a newspaper he owned. Babis has denied any wrongdoing.

Babis proposed his deputy Alena Schillerova to replace him, but Sobotka's Social Democrats have objected, arguing that she could hinder the investigation into Babis' business conduct.

"Tomorrow morning, before the government session, there will be a coalition meeting. I will tell (Babis' party) ANO my stance regarding their nomination for the finance ministry," Sobotka said on his official Twitter account.

The government session starts at 0800 GMT on Monday.

Sobotka's party trails ANO by over 10 percentage points in opinion polls ahead of national elections due in October.

Czech President Milos Zeman told reporters during his current visit to China that he would accept Schillerova. Under the Czech constitution it is the president who appoints and dismisses ministers upon a proposal by the prime minister.

Zeman's office has received the request to dismiss Babis on May 5, but the president said he saw obstacles that prevent him from acting on the proposal.

Schillerova worked in the finance ministry's tax department

for many years and has been Babis's deputy since 2016.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Keith Weir)