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Czech Republic's Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka arrives at the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Vidal


PRAGUE (Reuters) - 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 operators.

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 consumers.

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 news conference.

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 January 2014.

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 Boulton)