Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has stated the Czech unit in Kuwait taking part in the operation 'Enduring Freedom' could receive reinforcements of 130 soldiers by the end of the week. Around 350 Czech military personnel will eventually to be stationed in the region, though Mr Tvrdik did not state an estimate Thursday indicating how long their mission might last. The Czech anti-chemical unit has already spent nearly half a year at the American base of Camp Dauha, and were originally expected to return home in March. However, the Czech government recently met a US request to lengthen the unit's operation in the area to provide assistance in case war breaks out with Iraq.
The eve of the Czech presidential elections has seen some last minute meetings by some of the candidates: on Thursday the Social Democratic Party's nominee, Milos Zeman, met with members of the Czech Senate in order to try and drum up additional support in his bid for the presidency. Analysts so far are speculating the race is too close to call - it is even possible the elections could end in another stalemate. Three candidates in all are taking part in the race: former Social Democrat chairman Milos Zeman, Senator Jaroslava Moserova, and former prime minister Vaclav Klaus. It will be the a second attempt in two weeks to find a successor to outgoing President Vaclav Havel. Friday's voting will get underway at ten o'clock, when both houses of parliament meet in a joint-session.
Five of the twenty-seven members of the Czech anti-chemical unit currently deployed in Kuwait who had asked their superiors to return home early have decided to stay. According to the head of their contingent, Dusan Lupuljev, the soldiers were unhappy with the way the Czech media has been reporting on the unit, labelling those members who requested to return home as cowards. For five months, the Czech anti-chemical and nuclear warfare unit has been part of the US-led 'Enduring Freedom' operation and some soldiers have been complaining about the psychological pressure connected with their mission.
The Civic Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Vaclav Klaus, has criticised methods used by the Social Democrats to gain support for their own candidate, Milos Zeman, in the upcoming elections. Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Mr Klaus said that an unfair presidential campaign, which includes trading and promising favours, was launched in parliament when Mr Zeman was nominated. On Friday, Mr Zeman, Mr Klaus and Senator Jaroslava Moserova, who was elected by the two junior coalition parties (the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union) will stand against each other in a second attempt to elect a successor to current President Vaclav Havel.
Both reactors of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia are now generating electricity, after the plant's first reactor was connected to the national power grid on Wednesday morning. Since the beginning of the year, technical failure has seen the plant's reactors shut down on numerous occasions. The latest was on Monday due to a leaking turbine pipe in the plant's first reactor - just two days after the second reactor, crippled by a leak-related shutdown earlier this month, was restarted and connected to the national power grid.
Britain has returned around 90 Czech citizens - almost all of whom believed to be members of the Roma minority - after they were denied asylum in the UK. It was the latest in a series of forcible repatriations of Czech Roma by the British authorities. British officials recently resumed screening all passengers flying to the United Kingdom from Prague's Ruzyne airport. Britain first launched the controls in June 2001, in an effort to prevent Czech Roma from applying for asylum in the UK.
Members of the senior coalition Social Democrats have nominated former leader Milos Zeman to stand in Friday's presidential election. Mr Zeman, a former prime minister, is likely to face two opponents in Friday's vote, the second attempt to elect a successor to President Vaclav Havel. The opposition Civic Democrats have nominated Vaclav Klaus, also a former prime minister, while the two junior coalition parties - the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union - have nominated Senator Jaroslava Moserova. Observers say with the ruling coalition again fielding two different candidates, Friday's vote is unlikely to produce a successor.
Police say the body of a man discovered along the banks of the River Vltava on Monday was not a victim of last summer's flood disaster. An autopsy proved the man died in December, during a second wave of flooding that hit parts of Bohemia before Christmas. The death toll from the summer's floods stands at 17.
A leaking turbine pipe forced technicians to shut down part of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant on Monday morning. The shutdown of the first reactor came just two days after the second reactor, crippled by a leak-related shutdown earlier this month, was restarted and connected to the national power grid. Since October 2000, the twin-reactor plant, about 60 kilometres north of the Czech-Austrian border, has suffered numerous technical problems. Opponents to Temelin in neighbouring Austria and Germany have pressed the Czech government to shut down the plant because it combines Soviet-era design and western operating technology, but the Czech energy company CEZ insists the plant is safe and hopes to have both units operating fully by spring.
A group of non-affiliated senators and senators from the junior coalition Freedom Union are planning to field their own candidate for Friday's second attempt to elect a new Czech president. They are expected to nominate Civic Democratic Alliance Senator Jaroslava Moserova. The senior ruling coalition partner, the Social Democrats have put forward their former leader Milos Zeman, while the opposition Civic Democrats' candidate remains their former leader Vaclav Klaus who obtained the most votes in the inconclusive first election last week.
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