Re-elected Czech President Milos Zeman attends the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny/File Photo

PRAGUE, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Czech President Milos Zeman expects to appoint opposition leader Petr Fiala as the new prime minister, the president said in his first public remarks since the country’s Oct. 8-9 parliamentary election.

Zeman, who was rushed to intensive care at the Prague the Central Military Hospital on Oct. 10 with undisclosed diagnosis,

said in a telephone interview on Frekvence 1 radio taped earlier on Friday from the hospital that he felt well and was prepared to complete his mandate lasting until 2023.

Under the constitution, Zeman has the right to appoint prime ministers of his choice.

Zeman, 77, had in the past said he would give the first chance to form a government to the strongest individual party – which is outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO, although it does not have a majority or partners willing to form it.

That, together with the president’s condition which his doctors said after hospitalisation prevented him from performing duties, created uncertainty over next steps.

But Zeman, in his first public comments on the matter, said he was prepared to appoint leader of the centre-right Together coalition Fiala, whom he was due to speak to from hospital on Saturday, following the first meeting of the new parliament next week and Babis’s resignation that must come after that.

“At the moment the topic is mainly appointing Petr Fiala as prime minister. Several steps must take place toward that,” Zeman said.

“I believe that there will be no problem there, you know why? Because Andrej Babis, whom I just spoke to a little while ago on the telephone, does not have interest in being prime minister, as nobody is willing to negotiate with him,” he said.

The centre-right Together and a centrist coalition of the Pirate Party and the Mayors movement together won 108 seats in the 200-seat lower house in the election.

They concluded a coalition agreement this week, pledging to cut the budget deficit to 3% of gross domestic product from over 7% this year, make small steps toward the eventual adoption of the euro, and reaffirm the country’s pro-NATO and pro-EU stance.

The new government will also have to deal with a new wave of coronavirus infections, a rapid spike in inflation including energy prices, sharp interest rate hikes and challenges for the heavily industrialised and coal-dependent country stemming from the European Union’s climate goals.

Babis confirmed on Friday he would resign as required after the conclusion of the first parliamentary session, news agency CTK reported.

Reporting by Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Toby Chopra, William Maclean

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