Czech President Zeman needs time to recover, his wife says

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Czech Republic President (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Czech Republic President (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Czech President Milos Zeman in hospital for days with an unspecified health problem, needs time to recuperate, his wife said Thursday amid uncertainty over whether his condition would impact efforts to form a new government.

“I can only confirm that he has been undergoing treatment that needs time,” Ivana Zemanova said. “I’d like to ask you for patience and time he needs to regain strength.”

Standing beside her daughter Katerina, Zemanova spoke to the media at the Prague Castle, the seat of the presidency.

Zeman was rushed to the Czech capital’s military hospital on Sunday, shortly after meeting his ally, Prime Minister Andrej Babis to discuss the results of last week’s parliamentary election.

Dr. Miroslav Zavoral, the director of the clinic, said the president was in hospital due to the complications that accompany an unspecified, chronic disease.

The hospital said Zeman was in an intensive care and in stable condition.

As president, Zeman has a key role in establishing a new government. Although the office is largely ceremonial, the Czech president is responsible for tapping a party leader to try to form a government after a parliamentary election.

Jiri Ovcacek, the president’s spokesman, previously said his current stay in hospital doesn’t threaten the country’s post-election negotiations and his Constitutional duties. He said Zeman has asked to receive media monitoring on a daily basis.

Due to the lack of information about Zeman’s condition, the speaker of the Czech upper house of parliament, the Senate said this week he would ask the presidential office to advise him of Zeman’s prognosis to determine whether he can carry out his duties. The Senate will discuss the issue next week.

If Zeman is not able to act due to his illness or other reasons, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament will take over his presidential powers.

Zeman will have to accept the resignation of the outgoing government after the opening session of the new lower house of Parliament on Nov 8. He will then have to select the prime minister.

A liberal-conservative, three-party coalition named Together captured 27.8% of the vote on Saturday, beating Babis’ ANO party, which won 27.1%. A center-left liberal coalition received 15.6% to finish third.

The two coalitions have pledged to govern jointly. Together won 71 of the 200 seats in the lower house of parliament and the center-left alliance won 37 seats, which would give their government a comfortable majority.

Babis’ ANO won 72 seats, six fewer than it did in the 2017 election.

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