Fight brewing over pressure by PM for head of GIBS to step down

Michal Murín, photo: CTK

Governments in resignation usually uphold a pledge not to take key decisions for the remainder of their mandate. But that hasn’t stopped the prime minister. Instead, he had doubled down on his intent to force the head of GIBs, the national police inspectorate, to resign. So far, the official has dug in his heels but the matter is promising to heat up even more in the coming days.

Michal Murín,  photo: CTK
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has called on Michal Murín, the head of the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces or GIBS, to step down. The reason? That he lost confidence in the official who has headed GIBS since 2016; the two met each other several times at the office of the government over the last month, GIBS spokesman Ivo Mitáček confirmed. He made clear on Tuesday there would still be meetings with the prime minister to come, even if it has since come to light that Mr Murín has no intention of resigning. Spokesman Ivo Mitáček:

“[GIBS’ director Murín] has not been told why the prime minister lost confidence in him. He hasn’t heard any reasons yet. Understandably, under the law, he answers directly to the prime minister, so that means that additional talks are ahead.”

The move by Mr Babiš, whose government failed its vote of confidence in the lower house in January, has raised the hackles of members of the opposition, including the Civic Democrats. They are trying to initiate a resolution in the lower house restricting the prime minister’s options and, if that fails, to push for similar legislation limiting decisions taken by the government in resignation. The head of the Civic Democrats’ deputies club Zbyněk Stanjura pointed to the problem of an outgoing prime minister “himself charged by the police over alleged EU subsidy fraud” with pressuring a police official. The prime minister has since called for the so-called Stork’s Nest affair to be left out of the matter.

The Pirate Party also expressed worries and made clear it would demand an explanation on Thursday from Prime Minister Babiš during question period in the lower house. Party leader Ivan Bartoš:

“I want to know the reasons which are truly leading the prime minister to want to recall a person in such a high post at GIBS.”

Andrej Babiš,  photo: CTK
The matter has since only heated up and the war of words is likely to continue. On Wednesday, prime minister in resignation Andrej Babiš said he would call a special meeting of the National Security Council to explain his criticism of the head of the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces. He explained that he had lost faith in the official and doubted his moral and professional integrity, adding that his concerns were based on documents of the Supreme State Office in Olomouc, which could not be made public.

The outgoing Prime Minister also plans to attend a meeting of the Security Committee of the lower house and to discuss the case with the Highest State Attorney Pavel Zeman. More should be known in the days to come.