November 23, 2017 / 10:31 AM / 24 days ago

Czech president plans to appoint Babis's cabinet by mid-December

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman plans to appoint Andrej Babis as prime minister in early December and the full cabinet around the middle of the month, Zeman’s spokesman said on Thursday.

Babis’s ANO party came first by a wide margin in a parliamentary election last month but fell short of a majority and has not found any coalition partners nor votes to support a minority cabinet that Babis is now trying to form.

Czech public television reported on Thursday that Zeman wanted to appoint Babis on Dec. 6 and his full cabinet on Dec. 15.

The president’s spokesman said those were provisional dates. Zeman spoke on Thursday with journalists traveling with him during a state visit in Russia.

The eight other parties in parliament have so far been unwilling to join a coalition with ANO, mainly due to an investigation into allegations that Babis hid ownership of an farm and convention center almost a decade ago to get European Union subsidies.

Babis denies any wrongdoing and says the case is politically motivated.

The new government will take power from the date of the appointment. If it loses a mandatory confidence vote, it will stay in office until another administration is formed, which can take months.

Babis’ appointment will be possible only after the current government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka resigns, which is expected to happen next week at the earliest.

So far, only the Communists have said they may help ANO’s minority government in the confidence vote, but their votes alone would not be enough.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller; Editing by Toby Chopra

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