The Civic Democrats on Thursday added more fuel to the scandal surrounding the Prime Minister and his wife by claiming that money from a charity fund set up by the Prime Ministers wife had been channelled to a private account. During Thursday's question and answer session in Parliament Civic Democrat deputy Miroslav Benes said he had reason to believe that an unspecified sum had been transferred to the private account of Libuse Barkova, a friend and business partner of the Prime Ministers wife. Barkova herself is charged with insurance fraud. The Prime Minister responded to this accusation with anger, asking Benes to produce the evidence he had or apologize.
President Klaus has urged a speedy resolution of the Czech government crisis. On Thursday he held a series of high level consultations with political leaders in an effort to help break the deadlock. A reconciliation attempt between the two feuding parties in government broke down on Wednesday, with both sides reiterating their earlier positions. The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said that if the Christian Democrats could not accept him as head of Cabinet their ministers should resign from office. Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek said the Prime Minister himself should resign in the wake of a scandal over his private finances which he said was discrediting the entire Czech Cabinet. The third party in the governing coalition, the Freedom Union has distanced itself from the feud.
The Czech Republic and Haiti will re-establish diplomatic relations after more than half a century. The two countries first established diplomatic relations in the 1940s but they were broken off after the communist take-over in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Relations warmed up again after the fall of communism in 1989. The Czech Republic plans to open an honorary consulate in Haiti in the near future.
The leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek, who also conferred with the President, said the Civic Democrats would only support a solution leading to early elections. Earlier today the party rejected speculation that it would support a minority Social Democrat government in return for the approval of a majority -first-past the post - electoral system which it is known to favour. The opposition Civic Democrats say that whatever the outcome of the government crisis, barring early elections, the government should ask for a vote of confidence in Parliament. Senior party member Vlastimil Tlusty said that if the government itself failed to act in this respect, the Civic Democrats would not hesitate to initiate a no-confidence vote. In a no-confidence vote 101 of the 200 deputies in the lower house would have to vote against the government to bring it down. The governing coalition now has a slim 101 vote majority in Parliament.
Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek has made public the name of the man from whom he borrowed money to build his home in Bechyne, south Bohemia in 1997. The loan was allegedly provided by his brother in law, a businessman who was murdered several years later. Kalousek said that he was hesitant to make the information public for fear of the impact this could have on his family but that he now felt it was important to make his financial affairs transparent.
During consultations with the President on Thursday, Prime Minister
Stanislav Gross submitted several possible solutions to the crisis. He
said a solution must be found and those who could make it happen should
act. The Prime Minister said that he did not see much hope for the
present coalition, given the Christian Democrat's stance and that he
was prepared to negotiate with all parties in Parliament. He has not,
for the present, asked President Klaus to dismiss the three Christian
Meanwhile, the Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek told President Klaus that his party did not want to break up the coalition and intended to "tone down its rhetoric" in the coming days and weeks.
The state will not expropriate the restaurant building and the land adjoining the premises of Prague's National Theatre as the lower house of parliament has rejected a Communist-sponsored bill which would allow for the expropriation. The bill was only short of 10 votes to be passed. Opponents of the nationalisation said that by passing the bill the country would set a very dangerous precedent. In 1990, the Czechoslovak parliament adjudged the restaurant building with a large underground technical complex serving the National Theatre to the Order of St Ursula by mistake. The Order owned the land under the building before World War Two. Later, it sold the building to the firm Themos, which has been locked in a protracted dispute with the theatre. The loss of the facilities has caused significant problems to the actors and theatre staff.
Around 200 people gathered outside the government headquarters building on
Wednesday afternoon demanding that the Prime Minister Stanislav Gross step
down. The protesters said that the Prime Minister did not give sufficient
explanation of the origin of the money he used to pay for his luxury flat
in Prague, nor did he explain his wife's business activities and the
activities of special police teams he founded in recent years as Interior
The protest took place amid an ongoing government crisis. The coalition parties are due to meet later on Wednesday to discuss the current situation. The chairman of the Christian Democrats Miroslav Kalousek has called on Stanislav Gross to step down over his flat-financing scandal. However, Mr Gross has told the Christian Democrats to either back down or leave the cabinet.
The lower house has passed a bill on renewable sources of energy despite protests from the opposition Civic Democratic Party. Under the bill small power stations would be guaranteed fixed state purchasing prices of electricity for fifteen years. The government says the bill had been expected by private investors who will help the Czech Republic meet the European Union's demand to produce eight percent of all power from renewable sources by 2010. Currently, only two percent of energy produced in the Czech Republic comes from renewable sources. The Civic Democrats argue that nuclear and coal power are much cheaper and the involvement of alternative sources would deform the market. The bill has yet to be passed by the Senate and signed by the president.
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