Daily news summary News

27-03-2004

Czech troops join operation Enduring Freedom

The first group of Czech reconnaissance troops who are to take part in the US led operation Enduring Freedom have arrived in Afghanistan. Few details have been made available to the press since the operation is veiled in secrecy but the Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha has confirmed that part of the special forces have reached their destination and are fulfilling their set tasks. The first combat forces deployed by the Czech military since World War II are taking part in the US led operation Enduring Freedom, combing the Afghan mountains for members of the terrorist organization Al Qaida.

Cabinet to debate end of year bonuses for civil servants

The Czech government is to decide this weekend whether or not to grant civil servants so called 13th and 14th salaries, special end of year bonuses which were guaranteed by law in the past. A meeting between Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and trade union leaders produced no tangible result on Friday night. Union leaders said Mr. Spidla had listened to their arguments but made no promises. Civil servants say their annual incomes would drop significantly without this supplement and have threatened various protest actions if the Cabinet fails to find the extra money. The Cabinet is to debate the issue at a special session on Sunday. Trade unions believe the outlooks are not good since most ministers support the payment of only symbolic end of year bonuses amounting to 10 percent of the monthly wage.

Prague's international half marathon

Hundreds of people took part in Prague's international half-marathon run on Saturday. Among the well known faces at the starting line were those of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and the mayor of Prague Pavel Bem. The half-marathon, 21 kilometres long, was started off by none other than President Vaclav Klaus. Mr. Klaus himself declined to take part saying he was only there to cheer participants on, since long distance running was not something he excelled at. Runners from Kenya dominated the race winning in both the men's and women's categories. The overall winner Josef Ngeny Kiprotich covered the 21 km track in 1 hour 1 minute and 46 seconds. The best female contestant Catherine Kirui was not far behind, covering the distance in 1 hour 10 minutes and 38 seconds. The full marathon run is 42 kms long and is scheduled for May 23rd.

Weather:

Sunday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.

27-03-2004