PRAGUE Feb 20 Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav
Sobotka said on Monday he would replace Industry Minister Jan
Mladek in his centre-left cabinet at the end of February,
unhappy with a lack of movement to rein in the country's phone
The change comes just eight months before parliamentary
elections and as Sobotka takes increasing aim at mobile
operators in the country to get them to cut prices for
Mladek, a member of Sobotka's Social Democrat party, has
served in the government since its beginning in January 2014.
Sobotka said he had grown unsatisfied with the way Mladek
handled the ministry, "especially when it comes to improving
consumers' situation at the mobile services market," he told a
He said he wanted to have a replacement for Mladek in March.
Phone operators, including O2 Czech Republic,
T-Mobile and Vodafone have come under
stronger fire from politicians, who say Czechs pay some of the
highest mobile and data prices in Europe.
Mladek, a member of Sobotka's Social Democratic Party, has
served in the centre-left government since its beginning in
The Social Democrats trail Finance Minister Andrej Babis's
ANO party by a wide margin in polls ahead of the October vote.
Babis and Mladek often sparred over issues. On Monday,
Mladek failed to push through a proposal for a state-owned miner
to buy insolvent hard coal miner OKD, which Babis opposed.
(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Jason Hovet and Ralph