The outgoing Social Democrat government will resign on Wednesday, clearing the way for a new administration. Deputy-prime minister Zdenek Skromach made the announcement after the lower chamber elected a new leadership on Monday, ending ten weeks of deadlock. Once the cabinet of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has resigned, President Vaclav Klaus is expected to appoint the head of the winning party Civic Democrat Mirek Topolanek prime minister designate, giving him a shot at winning support for a minority Civic Democrat government.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has indicated that his party may support a minority Civic Democrat government with a limited mandate of two years or just a few months until the state budget for 2007 has been passed. Speaking to journalists, Mr. Paroubek made it clear that he was not entirely happy with the way talks were going and hinted that his party's support for a minority Civic Democrat government was far from certain. The Social Democrat leader has made it clear that he expects to approve the entire government line-up, not just the unaffiliated experts in the minority cabinet. After rejecting the suggestion outright on Monday, Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, backed down and agreed to discuss the names of all ministerial candidates. He is still pushing for a full four-year term in office.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has said he expects the Czech Republic to actively participate in the UN mission in Lebanon. Speaking to journalists Mr. Paroubek said this had not been officially approved but that he was "counting on" Czech participation. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda was more cautious saying that given the country's participation in peace missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Czech Republic had come close to exceeding its capacity. UN resolution 1701 gives a mandate for an expanded UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) which is to be made up of some 15,000 international troops.
A new police squad has been established to fight forced labour and exploitation of workers in the Czech Republic. This concerns mainly foreigners from Ukraine, Moldavia and Russia who are forced into prostitution or exploited in menial jobs. The unit's head Jan Mikes said that the Czech Republic had little experience in this field for the present time and was gathering know-how from abroad, particularly from the Netherlands. According to the daily Lidove Noviny up to 20,000 foreigners work in the Czech Republic illegally and an estimated 80 percent of those are subjected to forced labour or exploited.
Pavel Nedved has announced that he is retiring from international football. He will make his final appearance for the Czech Republic on Wednesday in a friendly against Serbia. Nedved, who will be 34 in a fortnight, said he would be unprepared for internationals given that his club Juventus is now in the Italian second division, adding that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is only the second Czech ever to be named European player of the year.
The next few days should bring a marked improvement in the weather with more sunshine and daytime highs climbing to 28 degrees Celsius.
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