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04-02-2018 17:33 | Ian Willoughby

Babiš snap election comment seen aimed at putting pressure on Social Democrats

Andrej Babiš’s statement that there could be early elections if his second attempt to form a government fails was intended to prepare the ground for a fresh round of talks, according, Milan Chovanec. The acting chairman of the Social Democrats said the PM in resignation’s words could be understood as a threat aimed at ensuring such talks proved fruitful.

Speaking on the same TV debate show as Mr. Chovanec on Sunday, the chairman of TOP 09, Jiří Pospíšil, said Mr. Babiš’s comments in a newspaper interview on Saturday were a tactical move aimed at pushing the Social Democrats into a corner.

Ondráček’s candidacy for committee chair not to figure in coalition talks

Support for the election of Communist Party MP Zdeněk Ondráček to head the lower house’s committee overseeing the General Inspection of the Security Services should not be part of talks on forming a new government, Radek Vondráček of ANO said on a TV discussion show on Sunday. Controversy has surrounded efforts to install Mr. Ondráček in the post, given the fact the inspection body oversees the police and he took part in a crackdown on protesters in 1989 while a member of a Communist-era riot squad.

Mr. Vondráček’s view was echoed by Jan Hamáček of the Social Democrats, who said talks on forming a government should focus on that topic alone.

Hamáček: Entering coalition with Babiš may be least worst choice

One of the candidates for the post of chairman of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, says entering a coalition with Andrej Babiš of ANO could be the “least worst” option. Speaking in an interview with iDnes.cz, he said his party, who came sixth in the general elections, were currently faced only with bad decisions or worse ones.

President Miloš Zeman favours a situation under which ANO would form a minority coalition with the Social Democrats supported by the Communists or Freedom and Direct Democracy.

Mr. Hamáček said he could not imagine his party cooperating in any way with the latter. As for the Communists, he said they could not question Czech membership of NATO if they were involved with a pro-European ANO-Social Democrats government.

Czech military police officers deployed to Iraq

Seven Czech military police instructors and three military police officers left on Sunday for Iraq, where they will train local forces, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said. The instructors will replace colleagues who have been operating at a base in Baghdad and will remain in place for six months.

The other three officers will help protect a 30-person Czech aviation advisory team based in the country. A week ago the Czech Army sent 12 military chemists to Iraq.

Councillors to consider smog crisis plan for Prague

Prague councillors should next week consider new regulations to be enforced during periods when the city is hit by particularly bad air pollution, Lidovky.cz reported. Under the plan, which could go into effect in a fortnight if approved, factories would be required to reduce their output during periods of high smog and trucks would be barred from entering the city.

Cars would only permitted to take to the road on alternate days, depending on whether their license plates end with an odd or even number. Breach of this regulation would be considered a misdemeanour.

Kvitová beats Mladenovic for St. Petersburg title

The Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has won the St. Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy. Kvitová overcame Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-2 in Sunday’s final for her first title of 2018. The Czech was the first wild card to reach the final of the WTA competition, which she was taking part in for the first time.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who is 27, is currently ranked 29th in the world. Her highest placing, achieved in November 2011, was second.

Weather forecast

There should be snow and bright spells in the Czech Republic on Monday, with temperatures of up to 0 degrees Celsius expected. The snow is forecast to continue until near the end of the week.