PRAGUE Dec 15 Czech Environment Minister Pavel
Drobil resigned on Wednesday following allegations that he tried
to cover up corruption in his department.
His resignation came as parliament debated the 2011 budget
and Prime Minister Petr Necas said he had asked Drobil to stay
on for the final vote expected later in the day.
Drobil is the first casualty for the centre-right coalition
which took power in July after winning an election on promises
to narrow the budget deficit and fight corruption.
Mlada fronta Dnes daily reported on Wednesday that Drobil
had tried to sweep under the carpet accusations that his close
colleagues attempted to influence money flows in a state
environment fund. He denied any wrongdoing.
"Although I am convinced that I had not made any mistake
other than in choosing some of my co-workers, I decided not to
allow the abuse of this media affair to discredit the cabinet,"
Drobil told reporters.
The main centre-left opposition party said on Wednesday it
would table a no-confidence motion against the government unless
The affair also irked a junior coalition party, the centrist
Public Affairs. A party official said the scandal had to be
dealt with before Wednesday night.
Parliament was due to vote in the final reading of the 2011
budget later in the day, planning to cut the deficit to 4.6
percent of gross domestic product from 5.1 percent expected this
The three-party coalition has 118 votes in the 200-seat
lower house of parliament and the budget is expected to be
Necas said he trusted Drobil and he could return to the
cabinet if cleared in a police investigation.
(Reporting by Robert Mueller, writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing
by Maria Golovnina)