Czech president too ill to work, powers to be handed to PM Babiš

PRAGUE — Doctors treating Czech President Miloš Zeman say he is physically incapable of performing his official duties and unable to name a new prime minister, Senate President Miloš Vystrčil told reporters Monday.

As a result, the Senate is working to transfer Zeman’s constitutional powers to the current prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Radek Vondráček, a member of Babiš’s ANO movement.

The move complicates the expected transfer of power following the recent Czech parliamentary elections on October 8 and 9, which saw the three-party Together coalition defeat ANO. A day after the election, Zeman was taken to hospital and the process of forming a new government has been in limbo since, in large part because neither the hospital nor Zeman’s staff had provided any information about his condition.

But on Monday, the head of Prague’s Central Military Hospital, Miroslav Zavoral, sent a message to Vystrčil detailing Zeman’s condition.

The president’s ailment was not named, but local media, citing anonymous sources, have reported that he is suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, a disorder of the nervous system caused by chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis.

If the president’s constitutional powers are transferred to Babiš, he is expected to ask the head of the Together coalition, Petr Fiala, to head the new government when parliament meets again on November 8.

Babiš has repeatedly stated that he will not try to form a new government and is preparing to become a member of the opposition.

Fiala has been negotiating with the Czech Pirates/STAN coalition to form a five-party coalition government that will have a comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies.



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