Daily news summary News Sunday, AUGUST 29th, 1999

29-08-1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.

CZECH-SENATE-VOTE

Independent candidate Vaclav Fischer on Saturday emerged as the clear winner in the first round of a historic first by-election to the Senate -- the upper house of the Czech parliament.

Fischer -- the owner of a prosperous travel agency who financed his own campaign -- won over 70 percent of the vote in the by-election to fill the seat of the late Senator Vaclav Benda, who died earlier this year. The by-elections were held in several parts of Prague.

The Civic Democratic Party candidate, actress Jirina Jiraskova, came a distant second and the right- of-centre Four Coalition's Ivan Medek placed third. Altogether eight candidates contested the elections, which were marked by an angry campaign and nasty verbal attacks from the Civic Democrats of Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus.

Turnout was reported as rather low, with only about 20 to 30 percent of the registered voters coming to the polls on a sunny weekend.

Seventy-two percent of those asked in a lightning survey conducted by the STEM polling agency have said they resent mutual verbal attacks between the candidates. And 62 percent said both houses of parliament should consist largely of independent legislators.

CZECH-HAVEL

Czech President Vaclav Havel has said he would not be able to carry on as head of state if the ruling Social Democrats and the main-opposition Civic Democrats succeed in their efforts to amend the constitution and curtail the presidential powers.

Our correspondent says the two parties' plans have been effectively thwarted by the election victory of an independent candidate, which stripped them of the majority they enjoyed in the Senate.

He said in an interview to Czech Radio on Saturday that the two parties clearly aimed at relegating the role of president to that of a puppet, or battery-operated head of state.

The proposed amendments would make it binding for the president to appoint the leader of the winning party in parliamentary election as the head of government, even if the winning party proved incapable of forming a majority cabinet.

CZECH-KLAUS-PRESIDENT

Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus says he has no intention to leave politics when his mandate as Lower House Speaker expires in three years' time.

He said in an interview to Saturday's PRAVO daily that he could become either prime minister or president of the republic.

Klaus and the incumbent president Vaclav Havel sharply attacked each other in the media during the senatorial campaign.

CZECH-TURKEY-AID

The Adventist humanitarian society ADRA said on Saturday it is sending a truckload of relief aid to the earthquake victims in Turkey. It said the shipment would consist of hygienic goods and tents.

ADRA has lately shared in airlifting aid to Turkey and launched a fundraising effort to help the victims. The movement's activist Pavel Novotny, who was in Turkey when the devastating tremor struck, said on his arrival in Prague that large areas around the town of Izmit, at the epicentre of the earthquake, remained without humanitarian aid. He said the conditions of the survivors camping out in the open spaces were further aggravated by inclement weather.

CZECH-BALKANS-CONFERENCE

Implementation of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe is the keynote of a two-day working meeting scheduled to start on Monday at the Prague Castle. It will bring together officials from eight non-governmental organisations and intellectuals from the former Yugoslavia, and international experts specialising in Balkan affairs.

President Vaclav Havel is expected to join the debate on Tuesday. The meeting is sponsored by the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly in conjunction with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Office.

SPORTS NEWS

Sport now -- and Slavia Prague stay on the top of the Gambrinus Premier Football League after a 3- 2 win at Blsany.

Jaromir Jagr wins the prestigious national Golden Stick Contest for the third time running, scoring a few points more than goalkeeper Dominik Hasek.

And Czech javelin-thrower Jan Zelezny and high-jumper Zuzana Hlavonova are heading for the finals of the Athletic World Championships in Seville.

CZECH-WEATHER

Sunday will be a rather cloudy day with scattered showers in the southern and south-eastern parts of the country. Daytime highs between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius dropping to between nine and 13 degrees in the night.

On Monday, we expect morning fogs in the valleys and some slight rainfall in the areas where the skies will remain overcast. Afternoon highs between 21 and 25 Celsius.

An outlook for Tuesday -- and the weatherman says more of the same, again with the afternoon temperatures ranging from 21 to 25 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.

29-08-1999