Czech PM Babis says will continue talks on new government: Pravo daily

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 29, 2018 3:23 AM

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Monday he would continue talks with the three parties that may support his new government after President Milos Zeman's re-election won him more time for the negotiations.

Babis has been trying to form a government since his landslide victory in an October election but failed to secure parliamentary support for a minority cabinet this month as he also battles allegations of subsidy fraud. He denies any wrongdoing.

The Social Democratic Party (CSSD), Communists and the far-right anti-EU SPD party have said they might join a coalition with Babis' ANO party or support it from outside.

"We will continue negotiations with (those three parties), only in the case of CSSD we want to wait for their convention in February so that we know who in fact represents the party," Babis told Pravo newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

The Communists have said they want some of their program to be picked up by the government in exchange for their support, while the Social Democrats and SPD have said they will not back a government that includes a person charged with a crime.

Babis has meanwhile said he would not accept the current Social Democrat leader Milan Chovanec, a former interior minister, in the new government.

"After what I experienced with Mr. Chovanec, I definitely will not sit in a government with him," Babis told Pravo.

Zeman said after his narrow victory in the presidential election on Saturday that he would let Babis have more time to form a government.

Babis has insisted his cabinet will take a pro-EU course and not give in to demands to hold a referendum on leaving the European Union, as Britain did in 2016.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Catherine Evans)