Czech mogul to be named PM for second time on June 6


Prague (AFP)

Czech populist billionaire Andrej Babis said Thursday he would be named premier for the second time on June 6, eyeing a minority government with informal communist backing to guarantee a parliamentary majority.

"Mr President told me he would appoint me as prime minister on June 6," Babis told reporters after meeting pro-Russian President Milos Zeman, his political ally.

Babis's ANO movement won 78 seats in the 200-member parliament in October's general election after campaigning on an anti-corruption ticket.

But Babis has so far failed to form a coalition with potential partners shunning him due to the criminal charges he faces for alleged EU subsidy fraud

He is now seeking a coalition with the leftwing Social Democrats (CSSD), which has 15 seats, with the party faithful expected to vote on the deal in a referendum whose results will be announced on June 15.

The new coalition would still need the parliamentary backing of the Communists whose 15 seats would earn them a role in government, albeit an informal one, for the first time since the collapse of the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989.

Babis's first attempt at forming a cabinet ended in January when his minority government of ANO members and unaffiliated experts failed to win a parliamentary confidence vote.

This minority cabinet has been allowed to govern as a caretaker administration until a new team is named, with Zeman promising to give Babis a second chance.

Police have charged Babis -- a food, chemicals and media tycoon and the second wealthiest Czech -- with alleged EU subsidy fraud to the tune of two million euros ($2.4 million).

The Slovak-born entrepreneur has also been dogged by allegations he once served as a Communist secret police agent. Babis has denied any wrongdoing.