Petr Pavel, former NATO general, wins presidential election in Czech Republic

Although his role is essentially honorary, the Head of State makes up the government and ensures the supreme command of the armed forces.

mo12345lemonde with AFP

General Petr Pavel, ex-chief of the NATO military committee and supporter of military aid to Ukraine, was elected on Saturday January 28, to the Presidency of the Czech Republic, defeating the former Prime Minister and billionaire Andrej Babis to take over from Milos Zeman, who had maintained ambiguous links with Moscow.

The one who led in opinion polls before the vote thus won the second round of the election with 58.25 % of the votes against 41.75 % for Mr. Babis, after the 99.74 % counting Bulletins. The participation rate in this member country of the European Union (EU) and the Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) of 10.5 million people was 70.3 % following An acrimonious campaign marked by the controversy, including on Ukraine.

“I would like to thank those who voted for me and also those who did not do it but who came to the polls, because they clearly indicated that they were honoring democracy and cared of the country, said Mr. . Pavel. I see that values ​​such as truth, dignity, respect and humility have won in this election. “

The campaign between the two towers was harsh, with a wave of disinformation having largely targeted Mr. Pavel, and death threats having targeted Mr. Babis and his family. The outgoing president, Milos Zeman, a controversial politician, had close links with Russia before turning at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Andrej Babis, 68, whose wealth and judicial concerns made him a divisive character, had described the vote as “referendum on Babis”. The billionaire sought to seduce the worried voters of the fallout from the Russian invasion in Ukraine, suggesting that his adversary could lead the country in this war. The populist deputy also declared that he would not send Czech troops to the aid of Poland or the Baltic countries as part of the collective defense of NATO – words which aroused questions abroad, and to which he immediately returned.

Although his role is essentially honorary in the Czech Republic, the Head of State makes up the government, chooses the governor of the Central Bank, the constitutional judges, and ensures the supreme command of the armed forces.

Former parachutist and war heroes in ex-Yugoslavia

The former elite parachutist Petr Pavel will be the fourth President of the Czech Republic since she became an independent state after a peaceful split with Slovakia in 1993, four years after Czechoslovakia abandoned his communist regime totalitarian, leaving Moscow orbit. His predecessors were Vaclav Havel, a dissident anti-Communist playwright who directed the country of 1993-2003, the economist Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) and Milos Zeman, whose last mandate expires in March.

At 61, Mr. Pavel is a hero of the war in the former Yugoslavia during which he notably helped to release French soldiers. He then became head of the Czech staff, and exercised from 2015 to 2015 to 2018 the post of president of the NATO military committee, the highest post of military official of the Atlantic Alliance.

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The two rivals had been members of the Communist Party in the 1980s, when Czechoslovakia was under supervision from Moscow. But the former paratrooper with a carefully cut white beard and white hair has since become an ardent defender of the belonging of his country to the EU and NATO.

He promised to be an independent president, not influenced by the parties of the parties, to continue to support the aid to Ukraine torn by the war and to support the candidacy of kyiv to become a member of the EU. “Naturally, Ukraine must first fulfill all the conditions to become a member, as progress in the fight against corruption. But I think that it has the right to have the same chances that we have had in the Past, “he said. Mr. Pavel also supported homosexual marriages and children’s adoptions by homosexual couples.

/Media reports cited above.