Czech President hints he may try to form technocrat Cabinet

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman indicated on Sunday he was considering forming a technocrat cabinet to replace the government of Mr Petr Necas, who resigned on Monday in a bribery and spying scandal involving his aide.

The leftist President said he might not agree to a plan by the centre-right ruling coalition to form a new Cabinet, under current Parliament Speaker Miroslava Nemcova, which could rule until a scheduled election in May next year.

Speaking in a radio interview, Mr Zeman said he was considering four candidates to head a possible technocrat administration, even though this could lead to a clash with political parties and trigger an early election.

"There is the option... which has not been considered much but which I consider to be realistic. That is the option that... I call a Cabinet of experts," Mr Zeman said.

He said he would announce his final decision on the way forward for the country on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Zeman is the central European country's first president chosen in a direct vote, which he says gives him a stronger mandate than his predecessors had.

He has the sole right to choose the next prime minister, but the new Cabinet must also win a vote of confidence in the Lower House of Parliament.

Political parties including the conservative coalition member TOP09, wary of allowing Mr Zeman to play a bigger role, have said they would support an opposition plan to dissolve Parliament and call an early election for this autumn if Mr Zeman tries to force his own solution.

That would mean a technocrat Cabinet, formed to Mr Zeman's liking, may rule for only about three months.

Mr Zeman acknowledged an early election may be the final result of the political turmoil which started with police raids on government offices and other premises earlier this month.

The police have charged eight people, including Mr Necas' closest aide Jana Nagyova. Some are accused of bribery and some with illegal spying on people, including the prime minister's wife.

Nagyova is in custody, charged with ordering illegal spying.

Prosecutors also accuse her of offering bribes, in the form of posts at state companies, to three parliamentary deputies last year in exchange for abandoning a rebellion against the prime minister.

A lawyer for Nagyova said she had acted in good faith.