Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, ex-prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway and Nobel peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel on Monday urged the United Nations to take North Korea to task over its lamentable human rights record. In a joint article for the New York Times the three leading human rights activists said an independent report they commissioned into North Korea's treatment of its population yielded "deeply disturbing" evidence, for instance that the government had allowed a million - and possibly many more - of its people to die during a famine in the 1990s, when the government diverted resources from food purchases to its military and nuclear programs.
President Klaus issued a statement on Tuesday saying he would meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties on Friday to ascertain how matters stood. The president said he was pleased that political leaders had launched a new round of intensive negotiations at the start of this week and said that he intended to do some negotiating of his own. He has invited the head of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek and the Christian Democrats Jan Kasal to talks at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The president stressed the need for a government which would have no trouble winning the confidence of the lower house.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer is to be questioned by police investigators in connection with the leak of a classified police report. The report in question was produced by senior police officer Jan Kubice and pointed to alleged ties between the criminal underworld and the civil service. The report was submitted to parliament and was leaked to the press on the eve of the June general elections. The police inspection team working on the case suspect Mr. Langer, then a deputy, of having handed the report to the press or having intentionally left it open on his desk so that journalists could read it and take photographs.
Party leaders have resumed talks on forming a new government, ahead of a
scheduled meeting with President Vaclav Klaus on Friday. The Civic
Democratic Party, which won the recent Senate and local elections, is
likely to receive a formal mandate from president Klaus in the next few
days and its leader Mirek Topolanek has taken the initiative in the
negotiations. In a meeting with his main rival Social Democrat Jiri
Paroubek, Mr. Topolanek firmly ruled out a grand coalition and is now
seeking to secure support for a caretaker government which would lead the
country to early elections in 2007. Talks with the Green Party and the
Christian Democrats have established growing support for a
A growing number of parties have expressed readiness to amend the Constitution in such a way as to facilitate early elections. The proposed bill stipulates that Parliament could be dissolved with the consent of a three-fifths majority in the lower house. The Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats, the Greens and the Communists have all expressed willingness to support it.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has come under growing criticism for his party's defeat in the Senate and local elections. Although Mr. Paroubek has been doing his best to present the outcome of the elections as a "moderate success" his critics and even some close associates are arguing the need to acknowledge defeat and accept the need for early elections. Party deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach pointed out that the last time the Social Democrats had won an election was in 2002. He said it was clear that the party needed to outline a new strategy and find new faces. Although nobody has openly challenged Mr. Paroubek's position as leader, regional party heads have criticized his style.
The results of a new survey conducted by the CVVM agency show that 74 percent of people trust President Vaclav Klaus, while only 28 percent of those polled expressed trust in the government of acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. The CVVM poll also indicates that people are dissatisfied with the current political situation of the Czech Republic—only 17 percent of respondents said that they are satisfied with the political scene since the June elections. As a result, the lower and upper houses of parliament registered their lowest ratings in the past year. CVVM conducted the survey during the first week of October, before the Senate elections.
The Civic Democrats have started a new round of discussions regarding the
formation of a government. The Civic Democrats, who won the largest number
of seats in the lower house in the June elections but do not have a
majority, expect to be given a second chance to try and form a government.
A first attempt by the Civic Democrats failed in early October, with the
loss of a vote of confidence in the lower house. President Vaclav Klaus is
now expected to give the Civic Democrats another opportunity to find a
solution to the current government stalemate - this on the basis of the
Civic Democrats' strong showing in the recent Senate elections.
The Civic Democrats are planning to hold discussions with all the parties in the lower house. On Monday morning, Civic Democratic chairman and acting Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek began talks with the Green Party, centering on ways to dissolve the lower house and call early elections. Mr. Topolanek has said that his aim is to bring the country to early elections. The Social Democratic Party chairman Jiri Paroubek remains opposed to the idea of early elections in the Czech Republic.
A new judicial complex has opened in Prague 10. The country's newest and largest complex of judicial buildings was inaugurated on Monday morning, after the completion of renovation work to three historic buildings at Na Micankach. The construction cost the Ministry of Justice more than 2.5 billion crowns (over $112 million US), and the buildings will be home to more than 40 percent of Prague's judicial branches. The complex houses 98 courtrooms, 38 interview rooms, 30 holding cells, and is connected by underground hallways. Ombudsman and former justice minister Otakar Motejl was on hand to open the complex.
Vojtech Filip, the chairman of the Communist Party, says that his party could agree to early elections and support a caretaker government even if the Social Democratic Party would not be involved in such an arrangement. Mr. Filip made the remarks in an interview for Monday's edition of the daily Lidove Noviny. Since the June elections, the Communist Party has been pushing for a government of national unity with a limited mandate. The initial condition of the Communists' was that such a government have the support of all parties in the lower house, but now Mr. Filip says that an agreement on a temporary government could be made even without the Social Democrats. Mr. Filip said that so long as the Civic Democrats nominate an independent expert as prime minister, the Communist Party has no reason not to support the proposal.
The Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami (57), has received the Franz Kafka Award at a ceremony at Old Town Hall. Mr. Murakami, who was among this year's contenders for the Nobel Prize in Literature, travels very rarely but told reporters that he chose to come to Prague because he holds Franz Kafka in high esteem, and considers it a great honor to receive an international literary award named for the author who called Prague home. Haruki Murakami has read many of Franz Kafka's works and considers him a personal favorite. It is Mr. Murakami's first visit to the Czech capital.
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