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    Retired Czech Army General Wins Presidential Election

    Retired Czech Army General Wins Presidential Election

    PRAGUE (AP) — Petr Pavel, a retired army general, decisively defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a runoff vote Saturday to become the Czech Republic's president.

    Pavel, 61, will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial but prestigious post. His election is expected to cement the country's Western orientation following Zeman's decade in office.

    With all the ballots counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 58.3% of the vote compared with 42.7% for Babis. Turnout was just over 70%, a record high for a presidential vote.

    “We can have different views of a number of issues, but that doesn't mean we're enemies,” Pavel said in a message to voters who cast ballots for Babis after what was considered a nasty presidential campaign period. “We have to learn how to communicate with each other.”

    Babis conceded defeat and congratulated Pavel on his victory. He called on his supporters “to accept that I've lost and accept we have a new president.”

    Pavel, who ran as an independent, is a former chairman of 's committee, the alliance's highest military body. He fully endorsed the Czech Republic's military and humanitarian support for in its fight against Russia's invasion and stresses the importance of the country's membership in the European Union and NATO.

    “Foreign policy is his strong point,” Petr Just, an analyst from the Metropolitan…

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