Czech PM Petr Necas resigns over aide scandal

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas arrives to tender his resignation (17 June) Mr Necas has been asked to stay on in a caretaker role

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Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has resigned in an effort to end political turmoil over a corruption inquiry.

His governing coalition will try to form a new government led by someone nominated by his Civic Democratic Party (ODS).

Mr Necas announced he would quit after prosecutors charged his chief of staff with corruption and abuse of power.

Two former MPs, an ex-minister and the current and former heads of military intelligence were also detained.

All except one have been remanded in custody.

"Mr president, in line with the constitution... I resign," Mr Necas told President Milos Zeman on Monday.

Czech media review

Mlada fronta Dnes: "A political scandal of the highest grade... The premier has resigned. This is a logical conclusion to a rather bizarre drama. He started as the most promising premier after many years, described at the time as Mr Clean. Mr Clean... is now leaving, with a lot of dirt being dished on him, but it has all been done in a rather odd and embarrassing way."

Lidove Noviny: "The first government which has made it possible for the police to investigate thoroughly cases involving senior political figures has become the victim of its own initiative.

Weekly Respect: "President Milos Zeman's position will now continue to strengthen. Following Necas's resignation, it is now up to him to decide who should be tasked with forming the country's new government… The government does not have a lot to offer, and confidence in the current political representation has been shaken so badly, that early elections should be called."

President Zeman has asked Mr Necas to stay on as caretaker leader until a new administration is named.

Mr Zeman has said the charges, brought after armed police raids on government and private offices on Wednesday, were "serious".

Up to 150m koruna (£5m; $8m) in cash, tens of kilograms of gold and large quantities of documents were seized during the raids.

'Nothing dishonest'

The prime minister's chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, is suspected of bribing the former MPs with offers of posts in state-owned firms. It is alleged this was in exchange for them giving up their parliamentary seats.

Petr Necas told a televised briefing that he was aware of his "political responsibility"

Ms Nagyova - a close colleague of Mr Necas for nearly a decade - is also suspected of illegally ordering military intelligence to spy on three people.

Czech media reported that the targets included Mr Necas's wife, Radka Necasova. Mr Necas announced this week that they were divorcing.

Mr Necas has rejected all the accusations against Ms Nagyova and the other five accused, saying: "I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest either."

Masked Czech police officers escort the prime minister's chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, to a police station in Ostrava, 14 June   Ms Nagyova is seen here being escorted by masked police on Friday

The opposition Social Democrats had warned they would press for a no-confidence motion in parliament unless Mr Necas stepped down, and the two other parties in his centre-right coalition had signalled that they could no longer support him.

The prime minister said the coalition would try to form a new government, led by a different person, to rule until elections scheduled for June 2014.

Under the Czech constitution, President Zeman - a political rival - is under no obligation to respect the coalition's wishes, and could name his own candidate to head an interim government until early elections are held,

Mr Necas also said on Sunday he would resign as his party's chairman.

"I am fully aware how the twists and turns of my personal life are burdening the Czech political scene and the Civic Democratic Party," he told the briefing.

BBC Prague correspondent Rob Cameron says the admission is the closest the prime minister has come to confirming that the woman at the heart of this scandal - Ms Nagyova - is more than just a colleague.

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