Politics

Center-right leader Petr Fiala appointed as Czech PM – POLITICO

PRAGUE — Czech President Miloš Zeman on Sunday appointed center-right politician Petr Fiala as prime minister and tasked him to form the next government.

Because Zeman has tested positive for COVID-19, he was isolated in an air-tight plexiglass box at the presidential residence of Lány Castle, near Prague. Everyone present in the room wore FFP3 respirator masks.

“I will do everything to make the government one of change for the future, which will take this country out of the current difficult situation [and] solve the burning problems that afflict us,” Fiala said after the brief ceremony.  

The Czech Republic is currently going through its worst wave of COVID infections since the start of the pandemic, with the world’s second-highest infection rate, behind neighboring Slovakia. Health Minister Adam Vojtech also announced he’d tested positive Sunday.

Due to the president’s ill health, the ceremony took place one month and 19 days after Fiala’s SPOLU coalition won a surprise electoral victory over outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO movement.

The day after the early-October election, 77-year-old Zeman was rushed to hospital with an undisclosed illness and remained there for more than six weeks, much of it in isolation. He was diagnosed with COVID the day he was released and was hospitalized again for treatment with monoclonal antibodies.

Fiala, 57, has signed an agreement with the so-called PirateSTAN coalition to form the new government, but will have to wait until Zeman vets each of his ministerial nominees, beginning on Monday. Zeman said the meetings would be completed by December 13.

However, the president has already warned Fiala that he is dissatisfied with one nominee and may not accept him. According to media reports, he was referring to the staunchly pro-EU Pirate politician Jan Lipavský, who is said to be slated to become foreign minister. Fiala has repeatedly said that he would not change any of his ministerial nominees.



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