Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Alena Skodova and we start as usual with the headlines:
Public sector strike
A one-hour warning strike, called by ten trade union organizations from the Czech public sector which represent some 800 thousand employees, was held between 9 and 10 a.m. throughout the Czech republic. The strike had strong impact especially on transport, since road workers blocked motorways and slowed down traffic on hundreds of minor roads and at several border check points. Also on strike were teachers, state administration workers, doctors and nurses from some hospitals, clinics and ambulances as well as some orchestra players. The National library and the Prague ZOO were also closed between 9 and 10am. The public sector employees are demanding a 20 percent wage rise and are ready to effect tougher protest action if their demand is not met.
President Vaclav Havel considers the so-called Bamberg affair, in which the Social democrats were accused of signing a money-for-power deal with Swiss based Czech businessmen back in 1995, a provocation by forces striving to destabilize the democratic system in the Czech republic. The president has said this, following a meeting with Social democrat leader Milos Zeman at his residence in Lany near Prague. Prior to the meeting, Mr. Havel acquainted himself with the results of an investigation carried out by the Security Information Service, the BIS. Zeman agreed with the president, commenting that the whole affair was staged by former members of the communist secret police, and targeted against his Social democratic party. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek then told the press that president Havel had asked the BIS for further investigation into the case, and that for the time being, he does not want to make the BIS report public.
A governmental coalition formed by the Social democratic party and the Civic democratic party, ODS, will not be possible because of the incompatibility of the two parties' programmes, not due to personal hostilities. Social democrat leader Milos Zeman and ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus confirmed this on a televised debate on the Prima private channel. According to Zeman, the two programmes are so different that in the event of a grand coalition none would be applicable. Klaus noted that it was inconceivable these two programmes could work within one government. Bishops - election
In a letter to Catholic believers which has been read in Catholic churches throughout the republic, Czech bishops call on people to come to the polls in two weeks' time. "Staying away from the polls is also a choice, but a bad one, because it indirectly strengthens the parties that you would never vote for," says the letter. The bishops admitted that the turbulence in public life might evoke the impression that there is noone to believe in, but at the same time they described not participating in the elections as running away from responsibility and noted that voting is everyone's civic duty.
And finally a quick look at the weather: We expect a cold front coming to the Czech republic from the West. It will be cloudy to overcast with showers and thunder storms. Daytime temperatures should range between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius.
And that's the end of the news.
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