Sunday, 21 July, 2019

Protesters in the Czech Republic call for PM to resign

Czech Republic protests: Andrej Babis urged to quit as PM Czechs turn out for biggest protests since the end of Communism
Patty Aguilar | 25 June, 2019, 22:39

The Czech Republic is experiencing the largest protests since the fall of communism three decades ago, with about 250,000 people in the streets demanding the resignation of prime minister Andrej Babis, who has been accused of having committed fraud with European Union funds through his company, Agerpres reports.

He traveled to the rally with his wife and a group of friends from Brno, the country's second city, 200km from Prague.

But while the group itself is to stay clear of political organising, protest organiser Benjamin Roll said it was the lack of choice on the political horizon which enabled Babis to hold on to power.

Demonstrators argue that the new Minister of Justice, Marie Benesova, is too close to Mr Babis. "This works for most people in the Czech Republic who say "they are from Prague, they are paid by someone from abroad", which is not true because the protesters are paying to organise this event".

It has organised a different of protests this year. "We are going to seek how many extra will near".

The 64-year-old is also subject to an European Union conflict-of-interest investigation over his Agrofert conglomerate, the farming, chemicals, food and media giant he was supposed to put into trust.

Babis suffered another setback from leaked preliminary results of an audit by the European Commission, which determined he is in conflict of interest as the beneficiary of trust funds where he had transferred his business valued at $3.7 billion by Forbes.

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Mr Babis, a former Communist, is the first politician since the 1989 fall of Communism in former Czechoslovakia to let the Communists have a role in government.

A day after police advised that the state prosecutor file charges against him, the minister of justice was changed.

The 71-year-old previously voted against a request from the police to strip Mr Babis of parliamentary immunity.

"It is unacceptable for our prime minister to be a person under criminal investigation", he told the crowd from a giant rock festival-like stage.

"Demonstrations are part of the democratic system in the Czech Republic".

"I came here because I disagree with the way Andrej Babis is ruling this country, that he is using it to multiply his wealth, that he is troubling it with his personal problems", said Petr Vlach, who traveled 300 kilometers (186 miles) to the capital from the eastern town of Vizovice.

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