Reuters International

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Wednesday he had signed a merger of the top anti-corruption units in the police force despite objections from a coalition partner which have shaken the centre-left government.

The plan which will reshuffle police top structures, bringing together organised and economic crime units, was suddenly announced last week, severely testing the three-party coalition after more than two years of relatively smooth rule.

Finance Minister Andrej Babis's ANO party called for more debate, saying if the plan was approved now it could seriously undermine the coalition agreement.

But Chovanec, a member of the prime minister's Social Democrat party, told a news conference he had gone ahead and signed the plan which will take effect from August 1.

"Personally, I don't understand the hysteria. The police cannot be part of a political game," Chovanec told a news conference.

The leadership of ANO later went into a meeting to discuss whether to annul the coalition agreement. The Social Democrats and ANO are the two most popular political parties with the Christian Democrats a junior partner in the coalition.

The plan would create a national bureau by joining organised and economic crime units. It has already led to the resignation of the head of the organised crime unit in protest.

The plan took Babis and others in his party by surprise and also caught state prosecutors off-guard.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Writing by Jason Hovet; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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