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Petr Pavel wins the presidential election

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The former head of NATO’s military committee, Petr Pavel, 61, won the Czech presidential election on Saturday against former Prime Minister Andrej Babis. The participation rate was just over 70%.

General Petr Pavel, former head of NATO’s military committee and supporter of military aid to Ukraine, was elected president of the Czech Republic on Saturday, beating former Prime Minister Andrej Babis to take the helm. succession of Milos Zeman, who had maintained ambiguous ties with Moscow.

He won the second round of the election with 58.25% of the vote against 41.75% for Andrej Babis, after counting 99.74% of the ballots.

“I would like to thank those who voted for me and also those who did not but came to the polls, because they made it clear that they honor democracy and care about the country,” said Petr Pavel. “I see that values ​​such as truth, dignity, respect and humility have won in this election,” he added.

Petr Pavel, 61, will replace controversial politician Milos Zeman as head of state, who had close ties to Moscow before flip-flopping when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. .

Turnout in the EU and NATO member country of 10.5 million people was 70.3% following an acrimonious campaign marred by controversy, including on Ukraine .

A bitter between-two-towers campaign

The campaign between the two rounds was bitter, with a wave of misinformation largely targeting Petr Pavel, and death threats targeting Andrej Babis and his family.

“Our community is somewhat hurt by the presidential campaign, by the multiple crises that we have faced and are facing, but also by the political style that has prevailed here recently,” said Petr Pavel. “This has to change, and you helped me take the first step on the path to this change,” he insisted.

Although his role is essentially ceremonial in the Czech Republic, the head of state appoints the government, chooses the governor of the central bank and the constitutional judges, and assumes supreme command of the armed forces.

EU, NATO, Ukraine

Petr Pavel will be the Czech Republic’s fourth president since it became an independent state after a peaceful split with Slovakia in 1993, four years after Czechoslovakia abandoned its totalitarian communist rule, falling out of Moscow’s orbit.

His predecessors are Vaclav Havel, an anti-communist dissident playwright who led the country in 1993-2003, economist Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) and Milos Zeman, whose last term expires in March.

Petr Pavel is a hero of the war in the former Yugoslavia during which he notably helped to free French soldiers. He then became Chief of the Czech General Staff, and from 2015 to 2018 held the post of Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the highest post of military official in the Atlantic Alliance.

The two rivals had been members of the Communist Party in the 1980s, when Czechoslovakia was under Moscow’s tutelage.

But the former elite paratrooper with the neatly trimmed white beard and white hair has since become an ardent defender of his country’s membership of the European Union and NATO. “The Czech Republic is a sovereign state and a full member (of the EU and NATO, editor’s note), so we can’t just sit quietly, shake our heads and criticize the results. We have to be more active and, at the same time, constructive”.

He promised to be an independent president, uninfluenced by party politics, to continue supporting aid to war-torn Ukraine, and to support kyiv’s bid to join the EU.

“Of course, Ukraine must first meet all the conditions to become a member, such as progress in the fight against corruption. But I think it has the right to have the same chances that we had in the past,” he said.

Petr Pavel also supported same-sex marriages and adoption of children by same-sex couples.

With AFP

France 24 Europe Fr Trans

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