Daily news summary News

24-02-2005

President Klaus meets with political leaders

President Klaus has urged a speedy resolution of the Czech government crisis. On Thursday he held a series of high level consultations with political leaders in an effort to help break the deadlock. A reconciliation attempt between the two feuding parties in government broke down on Wednesday, with both sides reiterating their earlier positions. The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said that if the Christian Democrats could not accept him as head of Cabinet their ministers should resign from office. Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek said the Prime Minister himself should resign in the wake of a scandal over his private finances which he said was discrediting the entire Czech Cabinet. The third party in the governing coalition, the Freedom Union has distanced itself from the feud.

PM urges action to resolve crisis, Christian Democrats will tone down rhetoric

During consultations with the President on Thursday, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross submitted several possible solutions to the crisis. He said a solution must be found and those who could make it happen should act. The Prime Minister said that he did not see much hope for the present coalition, given the Christian Democrat's stance and that he was prepared to negotiate with all parties in Parliament. He has not, for the present, asked President Klaus to dismiss the three Christian Democrat ministers.

Meanwhile, the Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek told President Klaus that his party did not want to break up the coalition and intended to "tone down its rhetoric" in the coming days and weeks.

Opposition Civic Democrats want early elections

The leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek, who also conferred with the President, said the Civic Democrats would only support a solution leading to early elections. Earlier today the party rejected speculation that it would support a minority Social Democrat government in return for the approval of a majority -first-past the post - electoral system which it is known to favour. The opposition Civic Democrats say that whatever the outcome of the government crisis, barring early elections, the government should ask for a vote of confidence in Parliament. Senior party member Vlastimil Tlusty said that if the government itself failed to act in this respect, the Civic Democrats would not hesitate to initiate a no-confidence vote. In a no-confidence vote 101 of the 200 deputies in the lower house would have to vote against the government to bring it down. The governing coalition now has a slim 101 vote majority in Parliament.

Fresh accusations against PM's wife

The Civic Democrats on Thursday added more fuel to the scandal surrounding the Prime Minister and his wife by claiming that money from a charity fund set up by the Prime Ministers wife had been channelled to a private account. During Thursday's question and answer session in Parliament Civic Democrat deputy Miroslav Benes said he had reason to believe that an unspecified sum had been transferred to the private account of Libuse Barkova, a friend and business partner of the Prime Ministers wife. Barkova herself is charged with insurance fraud. The Prime Minister responded to this accusation with anger, asking Benes to produce the evidence he had or apologize.

Kalousek names creditor

Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek has made public the name of the man from whom he borrowed money to build his home in Bechyne, south Bohemia in 1997. The loan was allegedly provided by his brother in law, a businessman who was murdered several years later. Kalousek said that he was hesitant to make the information public for fear of the impact this could have on his family but that he now felt it was important to make his financial affairs transparent.

Czech Republic and Haiti to re-establish diplomatic relations

The Czech Republic and Haiti will re-establish diplomatic relations after more than half a century. The two countries first established diplomatic relations in the 1940s but they were broken off after the communist take-over in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Relations warmed up again after the fall of communism in 1989. The Czech Republic plans to open an honorary consulate in Haiti in the near future.

Czech TV to sue licence fee dodgers

The Czech judiciary is expecting over half a million lawsuits to be filed by Czech Television against licence fee dodgers. According to the President of the Czech Union of Judges, Jaromir Jirsa, the first wave is expected in April, other, smaller ones will follow.

Weather:

Friday should be overcast with scattered snow showers and day temperatures between 1 and minus 3 degrees Celsius.

24-02-2005