President Vaclav Klaus has been meeting with designated cabinet ministers before he officially appoints the new coalition government of Stanislav Gross on Wednesday. On Tuesday afternoon Mr. Klaus met with Cyril Svoboda of the Christian Democratic Party who is to retain the post of foreign minister in the old-new cabinet, with Karel Kuhnl of the Freedom Union slated to become the next defence minister and with Frantisek Bublan, the designated head of the interior ministry. All parties later described the talks as friendly and informative. The swearing in ceremony is expected to take place at 11am on Wednesday. After its appointment the government has one month in which to ask Parliament for a vote of confidence. A likely date for the vote, already being discussed, is August 24th.
The new Cabinet, headed by Stanislav Gross, will have 18 ministers, including six newcomers. Twelve ministers of the outgoing government will remain in office. The three parties of the centre-left coalition government on Monday signed a coalition agreement outlining their priorities for the coming years. Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has expressed confidence in the new administration, predicting that in spite of its slim one-vote majority in Parliament the new Cabinet would remain in office until the next general elections in 2006.
Following Sunday's explosion outside a casino in the centre of Prague, which injured 18 people, Czech officials have said they plan to tighten regulations on granting casino licenses. The finance ministry is drafting an amendment to the law under which the police would screen all licence applicants, regardless of whether they had produced a clean criminal record and the local authorities would have the right to reject a casino in their district even if the applicant fulfilled all the stated criteria.
Under the present law security checks are terminated the moment an applicant produces a clean criminal record and Prague has more casinos than several European countries put together. Sunday's explosion, which injured 18 people, on a busy Prague street, was linked to the criminal underworld, the result of an ongoing feud between two Israeli mafia families. The incident has raised questions about what kind of people are operating the vast number of casinos in the Czech Republic and whether the authorities have the situation under control.
The Czech police have broken up an illegal techno music festival near the village of Bonenov, some 130 kilometres west of Prague. The move came after the owner of the grounds pressed charges against unknown perpetrators - the festival's organizers -who had made use of private farmland without the owner's consent. The festival drew some 15, 000 visitors but many of them left when the police closed off the area and started dismantling sound equipment early on Monday. According to the CTK news agency there were clashes between some festival visitors and police, with bottles and branches being thrown, resulting in minor injuries. Police then allegedly used tear gas and water canons to prevent further clashes. The remaining visitors left in the course of Tuesday. Two young men had to be hospitalized after collapsing from an overdose of drink and drugs.
A sixty one year old Czech woman has died after getting bitten by a poisonous snake while out on a walk in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The woman was enjoying an afternoon out with her family when she complained of a stinging bite on her ankle. After walking a few metres she fainted and died shortly after being rushed to hospital. Doctors suspect that she was bitten by a highly poisonous snake which is at home in Australia, South Africa and South America. The police have warned locals to exercise extreme caution because the reptile, which is believed to have escaped from a private owner, could attack others walking out in the vicinity of Cesky Tesin. The police have found a reptile owner who could provide a serum to counteract the poison, but they warn that the victim would need immediate help.
Wednesday should be another hot day with temperatures between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius and scattered showers and heat storms in the late afternoon.
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