News

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President cancels scheduled meeting with PM

President Vaclav Klaus has cancelled a meeting with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek scheduled for Monday during which Mr Topolanek was to inform the president about the ongoing talks about the formation of a government. A spokesman said the president cancelled the planned meeting with the prime minister after their morning phone call revealed that there had been no progress so far in the negotiations about the formation of a new government. Prime Minister Topolanek wanted to form a coalition of his Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens that would rule the country until early elections in 2008.

Paroubek: Social Democrats will not join four-party coalition

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have announced they will not join the four-party ruling coalition being proposed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, that would rule only until early elections in 2008. Party leader Jiri Paroubek made the announcement on Sunday evening after a meeting with other Social Democrat negotiators. The Social Democrat leader said his party has its own proposal for a cabinet including the Social Democrats, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, and the Christian Democrats, that would rule for a regular four year term.

Topolanek stands behind aide, will not apologise to Social Democrats

The prime minister and Civic Democrat chairman, Mirek Topolanek, has said the remarks by his aide caught on hidden camera are in line with his party's official stance and therefore there is no reason to apologise. On Sunday Social Demcorat chairman Jiri Paroubek said he expected an explanation and apology from the prime minister regarding alleged comments by his aide Marek Dalik, who supposedly attempted to win over several Social Democrat MPs to switch allegiance in an attempt to break the political deadlock.

Cunek for three-party government

In related news, Senator Jiri Cunek - a strong contender to become the next leader of the Christian Democratic Party - has told the Czech newspaper Pravo he will not support a centre-right government made up of the Civic Democrats, the Greens, and his own party - a government that by definition would have to rely on votes from rogue MPs. Instead, Mr Cunek is backing the same proposal being favoured by the Social Democrats - a coalition excluding the Greens and the Communists - that would run the country until at least 2009. Mr Cunek came under criticism last week from his party's acting leader Jan Kasal for having met privately with Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek.

Parkanova confirms intention to run for Christian Democrat chairperson

The head of the Christian Democratic parliamentary party, Vlasta Parkanova, has confirmed she will run for the post of party chairperson at the Christian Democrat national convention in December. Other candidates are Senators Jiri Cunek and Adolf Jilek and former MP Jiri Karas known for his strictly anti-abortion stance.

Value of counterfeit goods confiscated in Brno estimated at 105 million CZK

The value of counterfeit goods confiscated on Sunday by customs officers in the Czech Republic's second largest city of Brno has been estimated at 105 million crowns - the equivalent of around 5 million US dollars. Most of the products confiscated at warehouses were imitation brand-name goods: perfumes, textiles, shoes, and entertainment goods, weighing in at a total of around 50 tonnes. A spokesman said the raid was part of a nationwide operation, code named Marie, targeted at counterfeited products.

Transport experts: Traffic accidents reduced by 1/5 thanks to penalty points system

The Transport Research Centre says the traffic accident rate in the Czech Republic has dropped by a fifth since a penalty points system was implemented in July. A decrease is apparent in the number of injured and killed on the roads. The centre's director, Josef Mikulik, admitted, though, that drivers have since relaxed their vigilance and started breaking traffic rules again. In the five months since the new system has been in place, 74 drivers have lost their licence after they collected 12 penalty points for driving offences.

Weather

The next few days should be cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and daytime temperatures between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius.