The re-elected Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek has said his party
will reject the extension of the Czech Army’s missions in Afghanistan.
Paroubek, who was re-elected the head of the opposition Social Democrats
a party’s congress in Prague on Saturday, said Social Democrats would
follow the results of an inner-party poll in which 82 percent of the
party’s local organizations said the missions should end, while 87
percent of them believe that the numbers of Czech troops in Afghanistan
should decrease radically. The Czech Republic has more than 1,000 troops
participating in the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
The three-day party congress, which concluded at Prague’s Industrial Palace on Sunday, also elected four deputy chairmen, including shadow foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Brno mayor Roman Onderka. The Social Democrat party congress however failed, after several rounds of voting, to elect a fifth deputy, who must be a woman according to the party statutes; the remaining deputy chair will be appointed by party leadership.
Eleven people aged between 15 and 17 were taken to a Prague hospital on Saturday after eating a cake laced with cannabis, a spokesperson for the city’s emergency medical service said. The cake was served at a dance party; the police have arrested one person who they suspect had prepared the cannabis treat.
The surrealist painting “Spící” (Sleeping) by the Czech modernist painter Toyen sold for the bidding price of 20 million crowns, or just over one million US dollars, at an auction in Prague on Sunday, fetching the second highest price in the history of Czech art auctions. The painting was created in 1937 by the painter Marie Čermínová, better known by her pseudonym Toyen, and sold to a family in England a year later. “Spící” is considered one of the most significant works of European surrealism, and a key painting in Toyen’s work. The painter, born in Prague in 1902, left Czechoslovakia for France after the communists took power in 1948, and died in Paris in 1980.
In related news, MP Olga Zubová, who had been elected for the Greens but was expelled from the party last week, joined a newly established political group – the Democratic Green Party. As Ms Zubová has not resigned from Parliament, the new group, which has around 40 members, became the Czech Republic’s sixth parliamentary party. Ms Zubová has not revealed whether she will support the vote of no-confidence in the government on Tuesday.
In an interview for the UK paper the Sunday Times, Czech President Václav Klaus said that the Lisbon treaty would make the European Union less democratic, it would make the decision-making process less transparent, and it would give more competences to Brussels at the expense of member states. Mr Klaus also denied having made a comparison between the European Union and the Soviet-era system in his address to the European Parliament last month; the president said the Czech experience with communism was valuable in that Czechs learnt that where there was no opposition and no tolerance to other points of view, there was is no freedom, either.
In related news, the Social Democrat party congress adopted a resolution
on Sunday asking party leadership and Social Democrat lawmakers to press
for the cancellation of the treaties with the United States on positioning
an American radar base on the Czech territory. The Social Democrat leader
Jiří Paroubek told the convention on Saturday that Parliament would not
approve the treaties in the current term.
The Czech government signed two treaties with the US on hosting a radar base as part of the American missile defence shield in Europe. The deal has yet to be ratified by the Czech lower house.
Rebel Civic Democrat MP Vlastimil Tlustý told Czech TV on Sunday that he
and two of his fellow rebel Civic Democrats may join the opposition in
Tuesday’s key vote of no confidence in the government. Mr Tlustý said
“the cup has overflowed” and that the centre-right cabinet of Mirek
Topolánek should end.
The opposition Social Democrats will attempt to bring down the government in a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday; the opposition had failed to do so on four previous occasions. The head of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, said that if the opposition succeeds, the cabinet of PM Topolánek should remain in power until the end of the Czech EU presidency in June.
The band Kryštof was named band of the year at the Czech music industry's annual Anděl awards ceremony on Saturday night, also winning the award for the best song of 2008. Male singer of the year was Dan Barta, while the female singer of the year award went to Lenka Dusilová. The band Katapult, which formed in the 1970s, was inducted into the Czech music hall of fame.
Czech police broke up a neo-Nazi concert in the city of Plzeň, western Bohemia, in the early hours of Sunday after one of the performers played a song with racist lyrics. About 100 riot police intervened and stopped the performance by three foreign and one Czech band attended by some 150 far-right sympathizers. No one was wounded in the incident while seven persons were detained on suspicions of inciting racial and ethnic hatred.
The far-right Workers’ Party founded its youth group at a congress in
Brno on Saturday. The aims of the group include the nationalization of the
Czech education system, the support of traditional families and a general
ban on drugs. The Workers’ Party youth group currently has around 100
members, most of them from Prague.
The small far- right Workers’ Party made headlines last year when its sympathizers attempted to march in a Romany ghetto in northern Bohemia. In January, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected the government’s petition to ban the party.
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