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Czech president appoints Fiala as PM in ceremony behind glass

Czech president appoints Fiala as PM in ceremony behind glass
Czech president appoints Fiala as PM in ceremony behind glass Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters
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PRAGUE -Czech President Milos Zeman appointed the leader of a centre-right alliance Petr Fiala as prime minister on Sunday in a ceremony he performed from a plexiglass cubicle after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fiala leads a bloc of five centre and centre-right opposition parties that won an election in October, ousting the incumbent premier Andrej Babis and his allies.

The new government will have to tackle a new wave of coronavirus infections that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals and an energy crisis, after the collapse of a large electricity provider. The coalition has also said https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/czech-opposition-parties-plan-lower-2022-budget-deficit-after-election-win-2021-10-17 it plans to rework the 2022 state budget to reduce a large deficit.

"The new government has a very complicated time ahead and many challenges... I want it to be a government of change for the future," Fiala said at a televised news conference, adding that he expected his cabinet to be appointed in mid-December.

The new prime minister also called on people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and praised medical staff as cases are on the rise.

Only 58.5% of Czechs are vaccinated againt coronavirus. This compares to an average to an European Union average of 65.8%, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

President Zeman performed the inauguration ceremony from a plexiglass cubicle after testing positive for coronavirus. Zeman, who came in a wheelchair escorted by a medic in full protective gear, contracted the virus after a six-week stay in hospital for an unrelated illness.

The outgoing government has toughened measures on Thursday, including a ban on Christmas markets.

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