Some 2,000 people gathered on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Tuesday afternoon to protest against the continued presence of Jiri Paroubek - outgoing prime minister and head of the defeated Social Democrats - in Czech politics. The crowd was angered by the Prime Minister's bitter post-election speech in which he failed to accept his party's defeat, questioned the validity of the elections and called the elections "a defeat of democracy comparable to that in 1948 when the communists took over power in Czechoslovakia." The crowd chanted "enough of Paroubek", demanding his resignation from all political posts.
The winner of the weekend's general elections, the centre right Civic
Democrats, are holding talks with the Christian Democratic Party and the
Greens to try and set up a viable coalition government. The leaders of all
three parties said on Tuesday there were no fundamental obstacles to
forming a joint government and they would start work on the preparation of
a coalition agreement. The talks are complicated because of the election
stalemate in which the centre-right and centre-left each won 100 seats in
the Lower House.
The leader of the Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek has said he would try to form a viable government without betraying the party's policy programme. The stalemate in the Lower House means that the Civic Democratic Party will have to convince at least one member of the opposition - either the Social Democrats or the Communists to either leave the Chamber or support the new cabinet during the vote of confidence.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech won the Golden Ball award as the Czech Republic's player of the season for the second time in a row, beating five-times winner Pavel Nedved of Italian champions Juventus. The 24-year-old, who became the first keeper to win the trophy last year, played a pivotal role in helping Chelsea to retain their Premier League title. He also helped the Czech Republic to qualify for the World Cup finals where they will meet Italy, the U.S. and Ghana in Group C.
Some members of the defeated Social Democratic Party are in favour of supporting a Civic Democrat-led government for a period of two years in exchange for a change of the election law from a proportional to majority system. Party chairman Jiri Paroubek told Lidove Noviny this was not the position of the party's executive committee. The two big parties -the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats - have attempted to push through this change in the past but it was strongly opposed by the smaller parties in parliament whom it would effectively wipe out.
The Czech football player Jan Koller has signed a two-year contract with French league club Monaco. Koller, who is 33, leaves Germany's Borussia Dortmund on a free-contract after five years at the club. He is the Czech Republic's all-time record scorer with 42 goals. The giant striker joins Czech midfielder Jaroslav Plasil at Monaco.
A Prague court has ruled in favour of extraditing a Swedish national of Lebanese origin, who is suspected of assisting terrorists, to the United States. Oussama Kassir was detained at Prague's Ruzyne Airport on the grounds of an international arrest warrant last December. He was on a stop-over flight from Stockholm to Beirut. Kassir is suspected of having provided terrorists with financial assistance. He could face up to 15 years in jail in the US.
Newly elected MP for the Social Democrats Pavel Ploc says he has been offered a 5 million crown bribe to join the Green Party. Ploc, a former ski-jumper, said he had been approached by a former school mate whom he had not seen in years, with the offer of swapping parties and thus giving the emerging three party coalition the necessary extra vote needed to win a confidence vote in the Lower House. Ploc says he alerted the police and an investigation is underway.
The rising Czech tennis star Nicole Vaidisova has continued her great run at the French Open with victory over Venus Williams in the quarter-finals. The 17-year-old, playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, beat the American 6-7 6-1 6-3 on Tuesday in a very competitive match. Vaidisova said she was so excited after winning that she felt like screaming. She now faces Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia for a place in the final of the prestigious tournament.
Forty-five Czech soldiers—two of them women--from the 72nd mechanical battalion have left for a six-month mission in Bosnia Herzegovina. They will provide security services as part of the European Union's peacekeeping operations in the region. This is the first time that soldiers from the 72nd mechanical battalion are serving as part of an international mission. Another twenty soldiers are due to join the group in mid-June. Twenty-two European countries participate in EUFOR missions, and the Czech Republic joined this international team in July 2004.