Czech political leaders have made a breakthrough in talks on the formation of a new government, breaking a two months long deadlock. An agreement reached on Friday envisages the election of Social Democrat Miloslav Vlcek to the post speaker of parliament on a temporary basis, the resignation of the old cabinet and the appointment of a prime minister designate, all within a matter of days. All parliamentary parties have agreed to the plan, although the centre right parties have said they need guarantees from MP Vlcek that his mandate would be temporary and that he would resign under precisely defined conditions.
Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party has agreed to support a minority Civic Democratic Party government which would include both politicians and experts. The Social Democrats themselves would go into the opposition, and if all goes according to plan, party leader Jiri Paroubek would eventually become speaker of the lower house.
Civic Democratic party leader Mirek Topolanek, who looks set to be the country's next prime minister, is now putting together a new cabinet. Ten of the cabinet seats should go to party members the remaining six will be filled by unaffiliated experts. A senior Civic Democratic Party official said the party was aiming to include two or three women in its cabinet set up. The choice of unaffiliated party experts will be consulted with the Social Democrats.
The leadership of the Social Democratic party has urged party members to take an active part in a discussion on the possible stationing of a US missile base on Czech territory. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said he wanted this issue to be one of the focal points of the party's campaign in local elections coming up in the autumn. The Social Democrats have been pushing for a national referendum on the US missile base to be part of an agreement with the Civic Democrats. Washington has not yet decided whether to locate the base in the Czech Republic or Poland, but the Czech foreign minister has indicated that some kind of offer will almost certainly be made. The only opinion survey available on the subject suggests that 82 percent of Czechs do not want a US missile base in the Czech Republic.
Czech right wing Petr Sykora signed a one-year National Hockey League contract to play for the Edmonton Oilers next season. Splitting last season between Anaheim and the New York Rangers, Sykora had a total of 23 goals and 28 assists in 74 games last season. The 2002 Czech Olympian scored 18 goals as a rookie with New Jersey in the 1995-1996 season and has surpassed 20 goals in each of the past seven seasons.
European decathlon champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic retained his title at the European championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, thanks to impressive performances in the long jump, high jump and 110m hurdles. The reigning Olympic champion and double world silver medallist finished on a season's best of 8,526 points after dominating the field in the 10 disciplines of the gruelling two-day event. He finished a massive 170pts ahead of Hungary's Attila Zsivoczky (8,356pts) in silver. Russian Aleksey Drozdov (8,350pts) took bronze.
The weekend is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with rain across most of the country and temperatures reaching 22 degrees Celsius. Torrential rain is expected on Saturday night through Sunday.
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