Czech president to appoint new government on Friday despite reservations

Re-elected Czech President Milos Zeman attends the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo

PRAGUE, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman will appoint a new centre-right government on Friday, prime minister-designate Petr Fiala said on Monday, after the president dropped his objection to one nominee that risked a court clash.

The appointment will be nearly the final step in a transition of power to a new government made up of five parties that won a combined majority in an October election, ending Prime Minister Andrej Babis's rule.

The transfer has been slowed by Zeman's hospitalisation immediately after the election to recover from an unspecified illness.

Zeman had last week rejected the coalition's nominee for foreign minister. Fiala, who leads the Spolu coalition of three parties that won the election, had said he would take the matter to court.

He met Zeman earlier on Monday, and in a rare gesture of conciliation, the president backed down.

"The government will be appointed this Friday in the shape which I have proposed to the president," Fiala said.

The president's office also said new government members would be appointed on Friday.

Under the constitution, the president appoints ministers nominated by the prime minister, although Zeman has in the past exerted pressure over nominations.

Zeman has raised objections to Jan Lipavsky, a member of the Pirate Party, leading the foreign ministry, citing his "distanced" stance towards ally Israel and the central European Visegrad group that includes Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. read more

Fiala, appointed prime minister in November but still waiting to finalise his cabinet, said he appreciated Zeman's decision, and added the president did not want to burden the incoming government with a court battle as it takes over at a tricky time.

The new government, which will seek a parliamentary confidence vote around Jan. 12, faces a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic that has strained hospitals.

It also aims to cut the budget deficit planned for 2022 from near record highs and ease the burden on consumers and businesses of surging inflation and energy costs worsened by the collapse of a large electricity provider.

Reporting by Robert Muller and Jason Hovet; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Catherine Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.