Covid-positive Czech president Zeman appoints new prime minister Fiala from plexiglass box
Zeman arrived in a wheelchair pushed by a medic in a full protective suit and used a microphone to inform the centre-right politician Petr Fiala, leader of the Civic Democratic Party, to form the next government.
Fiala called on Czechs to get vaccinated against coronavirus and praised medical staff battling the rising numbers of cases.
Only 58.5 per cent of Czechs are vaccinated against coronavirus compared with an average of 65.8 per cent across the EU, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported.
Zeman contracted Covid-19 after spending six weeks in hospital for an unrelated illness.
The 77-year-old was first taken to a hospital in October, hours after his ally, the outgoing prime minister Andrej Babis, lost his parliamentary majority to an alliance of five centrist and centre-right opposition parties in the general election.
Babis is an ethnically Slovak billionaire who faces numerous accusations of corruption.
While Zeman – a lifelong smoker and former heavy drinker with a history of health issues – was in intensive care, the police began a probe into accusations that presidential aides concealed that he was too ill to work.
Zeman, who is known for making divisive remarks and using strong language, was criticised in June for calling transgender people “disgusting”.
The Czech president is largely a figurehead but leads talks on forming new governments.
Using a microphone inside his plexiglass box, Zeman said he would interviewee Fiala’s ministerial nominees by December 13 when the new Spolu (meaning Together) government is due to be appointed to take over from Babis’ administration.
The Czech Republic has the world’s second-highest number of Covid cases per head behind only Slovakia, Our World in Data reported.
Fiala’s new government also faces an energy crisis after one of the central European nation’s largest suppliers, Bohemia Energy, went bust this year. It had had approximately 900,000 customers.
Fiala told the media: “The new government has a very complicated time ahead and many challenges… I want it to be a government of change.”
The Czech Republic’s president, Milos Zeman, appoints the country’s new prime minister, Petr Fiala, from inside a transparent, plexiglass box. Picture credit: YouTube