In his traditional New Year's Day address, President Vaclav
Klaus hit out at the failure of political parties to form a new
government since elections in June. He said seven months without a
government capable of surviving a vote of confidence was a record, and
one of which the Czech Republic could not be proud.
The president compared the post-election stalemate, in which the lower house is evenly divided between left and right, to a "civil cold war". He said the Czech state had often paid the price in the past for lacking "internal unity".
Mr Klaus also warned against efforts to revive the European Union constitution under Germany's presidency. He said the EU offered new opportunities and removed unnecessary barriers, but also organised, regulated and controlled the lives of citizens; Czechs should do their best to ensure the first mentioned aspects prevail.
Outside the capital, a middle-aged man died of hypothermia when friends at a party in Ostrava left him lying outside, after he had become extremely inebriated. Another man was found lying dead on the ground by passers-by in Brno. Meanwhile a student at Ostrava Technical University is fighting for his life after being brought to hospital with alcohol poisoning.
An estimated 10,000 people attended a free concert on Prague's
Wenceslas Square on New Year's Eve. The show, which was broadcast live
on TV Nova, featured almost 200 singers and musicians. Police said the
event had passed off peacefully.
Elsewhere the city's rescue workers had their busiest New Year's Eve in five years; they were called out to investigate almost 300 cases of injury, mostly due to alcohol.
A 26-year-old man died after being struck in the head by a firework in Cheb, west Bohemia on Saturday. After setting off one firework outside a bar, the man went to check on why a second had not taken off. It hit him directly in the face. The man, who was Vietnamese, died of his injuries at a hospital in Plzen.
Documentary film maker Helena Trestikova is likely to be named culture
minister in a government currently being formed by Civic Democrat
leader Mirek Topolanek, the website Ceska media reported. Ms Trestikova
would represent the Christian Democrats in the coalition, which would
also include the Green Party. The three parties signed a coalition deal
on Thursday, although the alliance is one vote short of a majority and
would need the support of at least one rebel left-wing deputy. The
grouping already lost one confidence vote.
The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since elections in June ended in stalemate.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has welcomed the execution of the former dictator of Iraq Saddam Hussein. In a statement the Ministry said his death was an important historic milestone and represented at least partial satisfaction for the families of Saddam's victims. In the short term his killing could cause instability in Iraq, but in the long term the end of the era of Saddam Hussein will move the country closer to stability and democracy, it said. Though the death penalty contradicts European values his execution should be looked at from the perspective of Iraq today, said the Foreign Ministry.
Final preparations are being made for a big New Year's Eve concert at the top of Prague's Wenceslas Square. Almost 200 singers and musicians, including Karel Gott, are set to take part in the event, entitled Mejdan roku (Party of the Year). Organisers say they expect around 50,000 people to attend the show, which is being broadcast live on television.
A Russian man who caused a plane to make an emergency landing in Prague has been remanded in custody. Yevgenii Dogayev has been charged with threatening air space security and breaching aviation regulations. On Thursday Mr Dogayev, who witnesses said was drunk, attempted to enter the cockpit of a plane flying from Moscow to Geneva before being tackled and tied up by fellow passengers. He faces up to 15 years in prison if found guily.
Some 33,000 pupils suffered injuries at school during the last academic year, according to figures just released by the Czech schools inspectors body. Two-thirds of those injuries were sustained at primary schools. A spokesperson for the inspectors organisation told Lidove noviny it was difficult to say whether the figures are high, as the survey had been carried out for the first time.
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