Billionaire Andrej Babis sworn in as Czech prime minister

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PRAGUE (AP) — Czech President Milos Zeman swore in a populist billionaire as the country's new prime minister on Wednesday after his centrist movement won parliamentary elections.

Andrej Babis' ANO (YES) movement won 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house of Parliament in October.

Known for his slogan "everybody steals" and resolve to run the state like a company, Babis opposes setting a date for the adoption the euro common currency and rejects the EU's relocation system for migrants.

"Our position on migration is clear," Babis said after a ceremony at Prague Castle. "Our country should be more active and propose to the member states and the European Commission a solution to illegal migration," he said. "And that solution is a fight against human traffickers."

Wednesday's appointment comes despite fraud charges against Babis, a reason why none of the other parties agreed to create a coalition government with ANO.

Babis has created an ANO minority government with independent experts. Zeman, his ally, is expected to swear in the Cabinet next Wednesday.

Any new government has to win a parliamentary confidence vote to rule. The vote has to take place 30 days from the government's appointment and is not expected before Christmas.

Babis said he was planning to meet the representatives of other parties in efforts to win their support, or at least tolerance, in the vote.

If Babis' government fails to win the confidence vote, Zeman said he would ask him to form a government again.

Another failure would mean it would be a task for the new speaker of Parliament's lower house — a member of ANO — to select a prime minister.

Eight other parties and groups hold seats in parliament, including the anti-migrant and anti-EU party Freedom and Direct Democracy, which finished fourth.

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Karel Janicek


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