Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis called on the head of the president’s office to resign immediately for alleged misconduct in the exercise of the powers of ailing president Milos Zeman.
Police are investigating allegations of “criminal acts against the republic”.
President Zeman is currently in intensive care at the hospital.
He was admitted the day after the election when the center-right opposition effectively ended Babis’ chances of remaining in power.
Now Czech politics has been thrown into chaos by the bombshell revelations of Senate President Milos Vystrcil.
For over a week, the president’s office has insisted that Mr. Zeman’s unknown illness did not prevent him from fulfilling his constitutional obligations.
However, the head of the Senate says he has received official confirmation from the director of the Central Military Hospital in Prague that the president is “unable to fulfill any of his job responsibilities” – in other words unable to perform his duties.
The role of the Czech head of state is largely ceremonial, but that role grows in importance after the elections: it is the president who asks someone to form a new government.
He also accepts the resignations of outgoing prime ministers and convenes parliament.
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The indisposition of Mr. Zeman, therefore, questions the smooth running of this process.
Particular attention is now being paid to a meeting on October 14, when President Milos Zeman’s senior assistant, Vratislav Mynar, escorted Lower House Speaker Radek Vondracek to see Mr. Zeman – a heavy smoker and heavy drinker – in a unit. intensive care.
The brief visit of Mr. Vondracek was not approved by the hospital director, who is also Mr. Zeman. But it emerged with a letter bearing the president’s signature reconvoking parliament on November 8.
The head of the Senate says the hospital had informed Mr. Mynar on October 13 that President Zeman was completely unable to work.
The police are now investigating the circumstances of that meeting, including possible “crimes against the republic”, which in the Czech penal code include crimes such as subversion, sabotage and treason.
They are also investigating allegations that the president’s signature on the letter was forged.
There is also a serious political fallout.
Mr. Babis – who has until now been stuck in a difficult alliance with President Milos Zeman – has called on Mr. Mynar to resign from his post as head of the president’s office immediately.
Otherwise, he says, he will fire him using the presidential powers that will be granted to him if parliament releases Zeman from his duties by triggering Article 66 of the Czech constitution.
However, this cannot happen at least until November 8, when the new lower house meets for the first time.
The prime minister also criticized Vondracek, a member of his ANO party, saying he was used as a “useful idiot” by Mynar.
In the meantime, there is still no news of the exact diagnosis of the 77-year-old president.
His personal doctor says patient confidentiality means all he can say is that Mr. Zeman is being treated for complications resulting from his chronic condition, which in his case is type 2 diabetes and lower limb neuropathy.
Reports in the Czech media, including one supported by seven independent sources familiar with his health, claim that he suffers from severe complications from cirrhosis of the liver.
Such complications, the reports say, include a buildup of abdominal fluid known as ascites and also hepatic encephalopathy, which can affect cognitive function.
The president’s office did not comment on these statements, instead thanking those who wished the president a speedy recovery and urging them to continue praying for him.
The hospital report cited by the President of the Senate, however, says that President Zeman’s prognosis is “extremely unclear” and his return to work in the weeks to come is “highly unlikely”.
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