The President's secretary, Ladislav Jakl, has said that claims that
President Vaclav Klaus has called a meeting with the leaders of all
parliamentary parties for next week are false. On Saturday, media
reports said that Mr Klaus - taken aback by the recent political turns
- called the meeting but stressed he would not intervene in government
negotiations. In a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Jakl said the
president never made any such plans. In the same debate, Civic Democrat
leader Mirek Topolanek also said he knew nothing of such a meeting.
On Saturday, Mr Klaus said the political developments of the last few days had taken him by surprise but also reiterated that politicians should not be held responsible for the political deadlock that the country has been battling since the elections in early June. Their attempts at forming a majority government are hindered by the fact that the number of seats in the lower house of Parliament is evenly divided between the left parties and the centre and right parties, Mr Klaus stressed.
Police say two members of the so-called Berdych gang were arrested in Ireland on Friday night. The gang, named after their leader David Berdych, is allegedly responsible for kidnapping, robbing and in several cases killing wealthy businessmen. Several high-ranking policemen were also involved. The fugitive Tomas Puta and Maros Sulej are wanted by the Czech police for assault and robbery; Mr Puta - a former Slovak police officer - is also suspected to have murdered an antiquarian whose body is still missing. The men fled the Czech Republic in 2002 and 2003. They are now in police custody in Ireland.
Civic Democrat leader and prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek is
planning to propose one of three types of governments to President Vaclav
Klaus next week. The first is a political government with ministers from
all parliamentary parties except the Communists. The second is a minority
Civic Democrat government that will also include independent experts. The
third government that Mr Topolanek is considering is a caretaker
Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr Topolanek said one of the three cabinets would lead the country to early elections, preferably to be held around April or June next year. The type of government that he will propose next Friday will depend on the results of negotiations that will take place in the next few days.
An opinion poll commissioned by Czech Television suggests that most Czechs would blame the Social Democrats for failed post-election talks with the Civic Democrats. Some 48 percent of those polled by the STEM agency blamed the Social Democrats, who came second in the June elections; 43 percent on the other hand said that the Civic Democrats, who won the elections, were responsible. While it was mainly the elderly and people with a lower education who supported the Social Democrats, younger respondents with a higher education and people with successful jobs supported the Civic Democrats. 51 percent of those polled also said that the Civic Democrats should go into opposition following failed post-election negotiations.
Despite the sudden failed negotiations with the Social Democrats, Czech President Vaclav Klaus still expects Civic Democrat leader and prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek to present him with a government proposal by the end of next week. The two men met briefly in the Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary on Friday. Mr Topolanek is expected to propose to form a caretaker government that would lead the country into early elections, despite lacking support from the Social Democrats for such a government.
The Czech Republic has not been taken off the list of possible
countries to host an anti-missile base and radar system that the United
States is hoping to station in Central Europe, the US Embassy in Prague
said on Saturday. The statement was issued in reaction to claims made
by outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek in Saturday's issue of Pravo
newspaper that the United States is no longer considering the Czech
Republic as a site for its base.
A team of US experts has already inspected potential sites on Czech territory, sparking off debate over the potential threat to the Czech citizens' security and whether or not Czechs should decide on hosting the base in a referendum. Several international press reports last week also suggested that Washington plans to approach London, following mounting opposition to the base's presence in Central Europe.
President Vaclav Klaus has called a meeting with the leaders of all
parliamentary parties for next week but noted he would not intervene in
government negotiations. Speaking to journalists during a visit to an
exhibition in the town of Ceske Budejovice, Mr Klaus said the meeting with
party leaders was called because the political turns of the last few days
had taken him by surprise. But the Czech President also reiterated on
Saturday that politicians should not be held responsible for the political
deadlock that the country has been battling since the elections in early
June. Their attempts at forming a majority government are hindered by the
fact that the number of seats in the lower house of Parliament is evenly
divided between the left parties and the centre and right parties, Mr
Mr Klaus also said, with the current political situation, he cannot judge Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek for entering talks with the Social Democrats and seeking support from the Communists.
The Czech Republic is prepared to send troops to southern Lebanon as
part of the Unifil UN peacekeeping force but will have to wait until a
new government is formed to determine how many soldiers can be
deployed, says deputy foreign minister Jaroslav Basta. Mr Basta was
speaking at Friday's extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers in
Brussels, which was also attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Until the country has a new government, Mr Basta says, it will only be
involved in the Israel-Lebanon conflict through humanitarian aid and
The European Union has committed itself to provide up to 7,000 of the 15,000 troops that the UN hopes to deploy to southern Lebanon to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.
Earlier, before the Christian Democrats' announcement they would pull
out of talks on a left-of-centre cabinet, Prime minister designate
Mirek Topolanek revealed that his party was prepared to form a
caretaker government to lead the country to early elections. Mr
Topolanek said that he would present his proposed minority government
to the president by the end of the next week. The prime minister
designate declined to say who would be named to the new cabinet. But,
given the developments later in the day, it is not yet clear whether
this proposal will go forward.
If Mr Topolanek does push for a minority Civic Democrat government the decision will be President Klaus' whether or not to appoint the proposed ministers. If he does, the government will then have thirty days to ask the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence.
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