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Ex-paratrooper set to sweep presidential vote against ex-PM

(ANSA-AFP) - PRAGUE, JAN 27 - Polling stations opened Friday for the Czech presidential election run-off in which retired NATO general Petr Pavel is expected to beat billionaire former prime minister Andrej Babis. Despite the grim weather, analysts expected high turnout for the two-day vote, which follows an election campaign marked by hostility and controversial comments regarding the war in Ukraine. The victor will replace Milos Zeman, an outspoken and divisive politician who nursed close ties with Moscow before making a U-turn when Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Former paratrooper Pavel topped final opinion polls with 58-59 percent support, compared with 41-42 percent for Babis. Eight candidates stood in the first round vote when Pavel edged Babis with 35.4 percent against 35, and with right and centre backing he has since wooed the voters of several of the other candidates. (ANSA-AFP).