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Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka withdraws resignation, calls for finance minister to step down

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka formally withdrew his resignation on Friday, May 5 and instead called for the country's finance minister to resign.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka formally withdrew his resignation on Friday, May 5 and instead called for the country’s finance minister to resign, AFP reported.

“I will not present my resignation. I will soon ask the president of the republic to recall the finance minister,” Sobotka said.

Sobotka announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying: “I will shortly present my resignation to President Milos Zeman. It is unacceptable for Andrej Babiš to stay on as finance minister.”

In a long-running dispute, Sobotka has called on Finance Minister Babiš to explain past financial deals, accusing him of using “tax tricks or even tax evasion” in issuing tax-free bonds for his businesses.

Reacting to Sobotka’s announcement, Babiš said that “the prime minister has changed his mind for the fourth time in a few hours, I don’t get it.”

Zeman has no deadline to accept or reject any resignation. Political tradition in the Czech Republic dictates that a prime minister’s resignation means that the cabinet will automatically leave too.

Sobotka’s relations with the president are reportedly poor, and it is the prerogative of the president to choose a prime minister and approve ministerial appointments.

In a television interview on Thursday, Zeman said the government should remain “in the same composition” without Sobotka – implying Babiš would remain in the cabinet if Sobotka resigned, and that he would replace the prime minister rather than dissolve the entire cabinet. This appears to be a diffierent interpretation of the country’s constitution than is usual.

“I hope that the president will respect received constitutional practice,” Sobotka said.

Zeman also said that Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec were potential prime ministerial candidates.

On Wednesday, Sobotka reportedly told the cabinet he planned to hand his resignation to the president by mid-May, and on Thursday, he postponed tendering his cabinet’s resignation until the second half of May.

“I can hardly submit the resignation at a moment when it is not clear how the (presidential office) will handle it,” Sobotka said.

The on-again off-again resignation drama comes less than six months before parliamentary elections scheduled for October 20-21.


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