After a meeting with Mr Gross, the leader of the Communists, Miroslav Grebenicek, said his party would not be prepared to support the three-party coalition the acting chairman of the Social Democrats is hoping to put together. Mr Grebenicek said the only thing he had been offered during Thursday's meeting was mineral water.
The Prague metro system was briefly brought to a halt on Thursday morning, when a young woman who was attempting to escape from a ticket inspector jumped off the platform and ran into a tunnel at Zelivskeho station. She was caught between there and Flora station within minutes. The C line was brought to a stop again a short time later, when a man threw himself under a train at Malostranska station.
The way could be open to the formation of a new three-party coalition
government, after a deputy from the Freedom Union opposed to such a
coalition, Marian Bielesz, resigned from his seat in the Chamber of
Deputies on Thursday; the man expected to replace him, Zdenek Koristka,
has said he would support a coalition of the Freedom Union, the Social
Democrats and the Christian Democrats.
The same three parties made up the previous government, which collapsed at the end of June following the resignation of Vladimir Spidla as prime minister.
If Mr Koristka throws his weight behind this formation, it will allow the acting leader of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, to form a government and become prime minister. However, like the last government, it would have a majority of just one in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr Bielesz on Thursday denied suggestions that he had resigned in return for either money or the promise of an important post. He said he had quit parliament in order to reduce the possible influence of the Communist Party on the formation of a new government.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is to visit Washington next week to hold talks with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, it was announced on Thursday. Issues raised at recent summits of NATO and the G8 countries will be on the agenda during Mr Svoboda's visit to the US.
The first transfer of a member of the Czech football squad since the European Championships has been agreed, with 22-year-old defender Tomas Hubschman leaving Sparta Prague for Shakhtar Donetsk. The wealthy Ukrainian club recently bought the talented young goalkeeper Jan Lastuvka from Banik Ostrava. Clubs around Europe have expressed interest in Czech players after the country's impressive run at Euro 2004.
The world's most star-studded football club, Real Madrid, will attempt
to sign the Czech striker Milan Baros if Lorenzo Sanz succeeds in
becoming club president next month. Mr Sanz has also expressed interest
in another young
Czech player, Tomas Rosicky. Milan Baros, who is 22, was the biggest star of the Czech team which recently reached the semi-finals at the European Championships.
Czech politicians have sent condolences to neighbouring Austria on the death of Austrian President Tomas Klestil. President Vaclav Klaus described the late Austrian president as a skilled politician who had contributed to "exemplary relations" between the Czech Republic and Austria, despite hurdles such as the controversial Benes decrees and the Temelin nuclear power plant. The former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who was a close friend of Mr. Klestil's, said he was deeply saddened by his death. Tomas Klestil was a great statesman, a skilled diplomat and a good personal friend, we understood each other well, Mr. Havel said.
Marian Bielesz, a former Freedom Union deputy, has said he may give up his mandate this week. The announcement is being linked to Stanislav Gross' efforts to gain a Parliamentary majority for a new government. If he gives up his parliament post, Mr. Bielesz would be replaced by a loyal member of the Freedom Union, which wants to form an old-new government along with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party. With the extra vote, the coalition would have 101 votes in the 200 seat Lower House.
Talks on forming a new Czech government continue. The designated Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has scheduled meetings with both opposition parties in Parliament - the right-wing Civic Democrats and the largely unreformed Communists - to try and win support for a new government. The leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek on Wednesday rejected Mr. Gross' offer of two lucrative posts, maintaining his party's position: to support only a caretaker government and push for early elections. He expressed confidence that no member of the Civic Democratic Party would betray this line and accept an offer from Stanislav Gross. Communist Party officials who are meeting with the designated Prime Minister on Thursday have said they are ready to negotiate.
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