PRAGUE: Czech President Milos Zeman on Tuesday named a close ally, Marie Benesova, as justice minister despite widespread protests her appointment could undercut the rule of law.
The opposition says Benesova, a former member of the CSSD Social Democrat party which supports billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis, is the wrong person for the job at a time when the premier is embroiled in a scandal over EU subsidies.
On Monday, thousands of people demonstrated against her expected appointment and more protests are likely.
Zeman was blunt in response as he announced his decision.
“Do not let yourself be annoyed by those who only criticise and talk and who have never done anything with their lives,” he said at the nomination ceremony.
Earlier this month, the police recommended Babis be charged with fraud in connection with a two-million-euro ($2.2-million) EU subsidy scam.
If found guilty, the prime minister could be jailed for up to 10 years.
Babis is the Czech Republic’s second wealthiest man, according to Forbes, having built his fortune in agro-chemicals.
He has consistently rejected the accusations against him as a plot and politically inspired.
His populist party ANO emerged as the biggest winner in October 2017 legislative elections with 78 of 200 seats in the lower house where it joined forces with the CSSD to form a minority government supported by the communists. —AFP