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Czechs Protest After Babis Government Survives No-Confidence Vote

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (file photo)

Thousands of Czechs have demonstrated in the capital, Prague, after the government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis survived a no-confidence vote triggered by a fraud investigation.

Opposition parties in parliament only garnered 92 of the 101 votes needed to approve the vote, with the Social Democrats and and Communist Party members refusing to vote against the billionaire businessman.

But thousands joined the protests in Prague's historic city center chanting slogans such as "We want a decent government" in calling for Babis's resignation.

"The government should be led by an ethical, moral, and honest person who has credit even with his political opponents," Ivan Bartos, head of the opposition Pirate Party, said in parliament before the vote.

Babis -- who heads a minority government but enjoys the support of President Milos Zeman -- has been battling police charges that he hid the ownership of one of his many companies by listing his adult children as the owners. The company is alleged to have received a 2 million-euro grant that it should not have qualified for.

Protests have been ongoing since last week, when a media report quoted Babis's son as saying his father had him involuntarily taken to Crimea in 2017 in order to keep him from being questioned by investigators.

The prime minister denies any wrongdoing and says the investigation is being used to push him out of politics. He also said his son, who lives in Switzerland, is being treated for a mental illness.

Police are looking into the son's claim.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP