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Czech president can’t perform duties due to health, says official

Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman welcomes his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman welcomes his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Health problems were preventing Czech President Milos Zeman from carrying out his duties, an official says.

The speaker of the Czech Senate, Milos Vystrcil, says that a letter he received from the Prague military hospital where Zeman is being treated says the 77-year-old president is unable to work.

According to the letter signed by the hospital’s director, Miroslav Zavoral, Zeman is unable to perform “any working duties for health reasons,” and the long-term prognosis is “very uncertain.” It said Zeman’s return to his duties in the next several weeks is “very unlikely.”

Zeman was rushed to the Czech capital’s military hospital on October 10, a day after the election for the lower house of parliament.

The hospital previously said Zeman was in an intensive care unit in stable condition, but further details about his health were unknown.

As president, Zeman has a key role in establishing a new government. Although the office is largely ceremonial, the Czech president is responsible for tapping a party leader to try to form a government after a parliamentary election.

If Zeman is not able to act due to his illness or other reasons, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament will take over his presidential powers.

The new speaker of the lower house will select the premier if that happens. The new house will first meet on November 8 to elect the speaker and other officials.

Vystrcil says the Senate representatives will meet the leaders of the parties elected to the lower house to discuss the temporary transfer of presidential powers.

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