Issue of Jiří Čunek’s return to cabinet remains unresolved
Leaders of the country’s ruling coalition met on Wednesday to discuss upcoming tasks and priorities. The one important issue which was pointedly avoided was the possible return by Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek to the government. Mr Čunek stepped down last year as deputy prime minister and minister for regional affairs over charges of alleged bribe-taking, but was later cleared. His party is now pushing for his reinstatement, but some members of the government – including the Greens – remain opposed. Mr Čunek’s possible return threatens the stability of the governing coalition and will need to be resolved soon.
“It is definitely a big problem. We have heard several times that Mr Čunek was returning the next day, next week and so on and then nothing happened. Already this situation shows that the problem is a major one, not only for some Greens but even some Civic Democrats who aren’t supporting Mr Čunek’s return. There is a small group within the ruling Civic Democratic Party, led by deputy leader Pavel Bém, which doesn’t support Mr Čunek’s return. This then supports the position of the Greens who do not think it is a good idea either.”
As if to highlight the problem, Mr Čunek is mentioned by name in the US State Department’s annual Human Rights report for 2007 just released on Wednesday. It mentions the Christian Democrat in connection not only to his corruption case but also his former role as mayor in the controversial eviction of rent-defaulting Romanies in the town of Vsetín.