Czechia's President Zeman taken to hospital, the day after election
Daniel Harries
Czechia President Milos Zeman attends the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle. /David W Cerny/Reuters

Czechia President Milos Zeman attends the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle. /David W Cerny/Reuters

Czechia President Milos Zeman was taken to hospital on Sunday, bringing uncertainty at a key point when he was due to lead political talks on forming a new government a day after the country's parliamentary election

A spokeswoman for the Central Military Hospital in Prague said Zeman, 77, was being hospitalized and the hospital director would give a briefing at 2 p.m. (1200 GMT).

Reporters saw an ambulance leaving the presidential chateau at Lany, west of Prague, soon after Zeman met Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Neither Babis's office nor Zeman's had any comment after the meeting.



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Zeman's spokesman, Jiri Ovcacek, confirmed the president had been taken to hospital, but gave no details of what was wrong with him.

"On the basis of a recommendation from his attending physician professor Miroslav Zavoral, Milos Zeman agreed to be hospitalized at the Central Military Hospital in Prague," Ovcacek said on Twitter. "The president was hospitalized on Sunday, Oct 10."

The presidential office had previously said Zeman has been ill and he spent eight days in hospital last month, but officials have not given details of his condition.

Babis' ANO party narrowly lost the parliamentary election – which took place on Friday and Saturday – to the center-right Together coalition, and seemed to have no chance of forming a ruling majority.

READ MORE: Czechia opposition wins election in surprise defeat for PM Babis

Together and the liberal Pirates/Mayors coalition won a total of 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house and said they intended to form a government.

However, while Babis conceded on Saturday that Together won more votes as a coalition, he did not signal a move into opposition, saying "If the president authorizes me to do so, I will lead talks on forming a cabinet."

In the Czech system, the president leads talks with party leaders after elections to find a workable majority.

Under the constitution, the president can appoint anyone as prime minister and instruct them to nominate a cabinet – but the new cabinet must face a vote of confidence in the lower house within a month of its appointment.

Zeman had said prior to the election that he would appoint the leader of the biggest winning individual party, not a coalition, to try to form a government. This would be Babis, since the ANO won the most votes of any party.

Zeman, an ally of Babis, has made no comment on his next steps since the election results. Under the constitution, the president's authority to appoint the prime minister passes to the speaker of the lower house if the presidential position is vacated.

Source(s): Reuters

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