Czech president's hospital treatment will take time, wife says

FILE PHOTO: Re-elected Czech President Milos Zeman attends the inauguration ceremony at Prague Castle in Prague
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PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech President Milos Zeman is undergoing treatment that will take time, his wife Ivana Zemanova told reporters on Thursday, but gave no details about his diagnosis or condition.

Zeman, 77, was taken into intensive care at a Prague hospital on Sunday, a day after a parliamentary election which will eventually require him to appoint a new prime minister.

"I can only confirm that he is undergoing treatment that requires time," Zemanova told reporters in a briefing at Prague Castle where no questions were allowed.

"I am asking you for patience and the necessary time for him to gather strength."

Zeman's condition has been the subject of wide speculation in the media amid a lack of detailed information from his office or doctors.

Radek Vondracek, speaker of the outgoing lower house from the ruling ANO party, told public Czech Radio he had visited Zeman on Thursday and saw him sign a decision to call a session of the new parliament for Nov. 8.

"We spoke, he smiled," Vondracek said. "From what I asked (it emerged) that he feels better." Zeman had previously been in hospital last month for eight days and was released on Sept. 22.

His spokesman said last Friday the president had been ill for the past two weeks, despite previously not revealing any illness.

Under the constitution, Zeman is in charge of appointing the next prime minister, after the current government led by Andrej Babis resigns following the first lower house session.

Prior to the election, Zeman had said he would appoint the head of the biggest single party, which is Babis's ANO, as the new prime minister.

However, ANO has conceded it has little chance to form a government after two centrist and centre-right coalitions won 108 of the 200 seats in the lower house and pledged to form a government together.

Babis, while signalling readiness to move to opposition, has said he would only reveal whether he will still try to form a government once Zeman's health improves and he meets him to discuss the situation.

Zeman, a self-professed long-time drinker and smoker, had previously been treated for diabetes and neuropathy.

In case the president is incapacitated, the two houses of parliament could take away his powers and the right to appoint the prime minister would pass to the speaker of the lower house.

(Reporting by Robert Muller, writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Toby Chopra and Nick Macfie)

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