Party leaders resume talks on new government

Party leaders have resumed talks on forming a new government, ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Vaclav Klaus on Friday. The Civic Democratic Party, which won the recent Senate and local elections, is likely to receive a formal mandate from president Klaus in the next few days and its leader Mirek Topolanek has taken the initiative in the negotiations. In a meeting with his main rival Social Democrat Jiri Paroubek, Mr. Topolanek firmly ruled out a grand coalition and is now seeking to secure support for a caretaker government which would lead the country to early elections in 2007. Talks with the Green Party and the Christian Democrats have established growing support for a "rainbow" cabinet.

A growing number of parties have expressed readiness to amend the Constitution in such a way as to facilitate early elections. The proposed bill stipulates that Parliament could be dissolved with the consent of a three-fifths majority in the lower house. The Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats, the Greens and the Communists have all expressed willingness to support it.

President will enter into talks

President Klaus issued a statement on Tuesday saying he would meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties on Friday to ascertain how matters stood. The president said he was pleased that political leaders had launched a new round of intensive negotiations at the start of this week and said that he intended to do some negotiating of his own. He has invited the head of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek and the Christian Democrats Jan Kasal to talks at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The president stressed the need for a government which would have no trouble winning the confidence of the lower house.

Paroubek under fire for election defeat

Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has come under growing criticism for his party's defeat in the Senate and local elections. Although Mr. Paroubek has been doing his best to present the outcome of the elections as a "moderate success" his critics and even some close associates are arguing the need to acknowledge defeat and accept the need for early elections. Party deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach pointed out that the last time the Social Democrats had won an election was in 2002. He said it was clear that the party needed to outline a new strategy and find new faces. Although nobody has openly challenged Mr. Paroubek's position as leader, regional party heads have criticized his style.

Interior Minister Langer suspected of leaking Kubice report

Interior Minister Ivan Langer is to be questioned by police investigators in connection with the leak of a classified police report. The report in question was produced by senior police officer Jan Kubice and pointed to alleged ties between the criminal underworld and the civil service. The report was submitted to parliament and was leaked to the press on the eve of the June general elections. The police inspection team working on the case suspect Mr. Langer, then a deputy, of having handed the report to the press or having intentionally left it open on his desk so that journalists could read it and take photographs.

Vaclav Havel - North Korea appeal

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, ex-prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway and Nobel peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel on Monday urged the United Nations to take North Korea to task over its lamentable human rights record. In a joint article for the New York Times the three leading human rights activists said an independent report they commissioned into North Korea's treatment of its population yielded "deeply disturbing" evidence, for instance that the government had allowed a million - and possibly many more - of its people to die during a famine in the 1990s, when the government diverted resources from food purchases to its military and nuclear programs.


While day temperatures are now hovering at around 10 degrees Celsius meteorologists predict a cold front in the second half of the week with day temperatures expected to drop to between 0 and 4 degrees and we can expect the first snow in lower altitudes.