PRAGUE (AFP) - Czech politicians of all stripes joined forces on Tuesday to slam the country's outspoken president after he publicly mulled using a Kalashnikov machine gun to get rid of the prime minister, a political rival.
Both leftists, President Milos Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka were once allies but their relationship has soured amid Europe's record migrant crisis, with Sobotka supporting but Zeman staunchly opposing the influx.
Asked at a public debate on Monday how people could get rid of the pro-migrant Sobotka, Zeman said: "There is only one democratic option, which is a general election."
"A non-democratic option is a Kalashnikov," added the 71-year-old veteran leftwinger, the first-ever directly elected president of the Czech Republic, referring to the iconic Russian-made weapon.
"I hope he meant it as a joke, because it's disgusting," Vojtech Filip, head of the opposition Communist party, told local media.
Poking fun at Zeman, who is known for liking a drink, Christian Democrat MEP Pavel Svoboda tweeted a picture of Rambo actor Sylvester Stalone gripping a Kalashikov with the caption: "Will the president be able to hold the Kalashnikov himself, or will he hire someone to do it?"
"This is unworthy of a head of state. He keeps provoking, splitting society, something a good politician would never dare do," added Petr Fiala, head of the right-wing Civic Democrats.
Sobotka, who started his political career 20 years ago as a legislator for the Social Democrats led by Zeman at that time, dubbed the president's statement "stupid, unnecessary, and I will not react to it."
"We are most likely the only country in the civilised world where the president openly calls for killing the prime minister," Sobotka said on Twitter.
"I can deal with it myself, but I'm upset by the fact that Zeman has scared my children, the whole family and friends," added the 44-year-old father of two small boys.
Sixty per cent of Czechs believe their EU and Nato state of 10.5 million people should not accept refugees from war-torn countries, the Czech Academy of Science found in a December poll.