Czech Senate committee declares President Zeman unfit for office

The Senate will now rule on the committee's proposal that Zeman, 76, be stripped of the post.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 03.06.2021 09:41 (updated on 05.06.2021)

Prague, June 2 (CTK) - Czech President Miloš Zeman is incapable of executing the responsibilities of his office, the Czech Senate security committee has decided. The Senate will now rule on the committee's proposal that Zeman, 76, be stripped of the post, committee chairman Pavel Fischer told reporters Wednesday evening.

Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček took to Twitter to call the committee's decision an attack on constitutionality, freedom, and democracy. He said that the motion to remove the president arouses serious suspicion of the criminal subversion of the state.

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Under the constitution, the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, would need to confirm the upper house's possible verdict that Zeman is incapable of holding office.

Fischer said that Zeman has proven in his statements, including the Vrbětice case, in which Russian intelligence agents are suspected of orchestrating the 2014 explosions in a Czech ammunition depot, that he is disoriented, cannot cite the constitution correctly, and distorts reality by confusing the consequence with the cause.

"He has not acted in harmony with his [presidential] oath, and stands against the media in a way that is at odds with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms," Fischer added.

Fischer said the committee arrived at the conclusion based on Zeman's recent public statements including the president's repeated assertation that law enforcement bodies probe more versions of the Vrbětice affair inquiry. Zeman reiterated this despite repeatedly being told by investigators, secret services, and PM Andrej Babiš that there is only one investigation version, the one that puts Russian intelligence agents behind the blasts.

Fischer said Zeman's comments on the Vrbětice affair are the culmination of his statements jeopardizing the Czech Republic's security. The president is incapable of distinguishing between classified information and public information, Fischer added, recalling that Zeman came up with his position on the Vrbětice case only one week after it surfaced in public in mid-April.

"The absolutely false attack by an organized group of senators on the president of the republic amounts to an attack on constitutionality, freedom, and democracy," Ovčáček tweeted, adding that "the step taken by the group of senators arouses serious suspicion of a crime according to the Criminal Code's Article 310, subversion of the republic.

Ovčáček later called the committee's findings "an organized attempt at a state coup" in the making. "Law enforcement bodies should start to act immediately," he wrote.

The Czech constitution says that "if the president of the republic cannot execute his or her post for serious reasons, and if the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate agree on it," the president's powers are transferred to the prime minister, the Chamber of Deputies, and the Senate.

The Senate, which is the upper house of parliament, proposed the filing of a constitutional lawsuit against Zeman in 2019, reproaching him for inactivity in appointing and dismissing ministers, and for public appearances that are counter to the nation's official foreign policy. The lawsuit was to be founded upon the suspected cases of Zeman and his aides influencing the judiciary.

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The Chamber of Deputies, dominated by Zeman's supporters from ANO, the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), the Communist Party (KSCM), and Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), turned down the proposed filing of a lawsuit.

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