News

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President Klaus mediates coalition talks

President Klaus is in the process of meeting with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties during the course of Thursday and Friday to try to resolve the post-election stalemate. The president scheduled Thursday's meetings with the leaders from the three smaller parties, the Greens, Christian Democrats, and the Communists. It is the first time in the history of an independent Czech Republic that a president has officially met with the chairman of the Communist Party.

Since June's inconclusive general elections, which gave the right and left block 100 seats each in the lower house, the leaders of the two biggest parties - the centre right Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats - have been arguing over what kind of coalition government should be formed.

The leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has refused to support a centre right coalition and earlier this week he gave a lukewarm response to an offer to join the three parties in a rainbow coalition. Mr. Paroubek said he preferred to discuss other alternatives such as a grand coalition or a minority Civic Democrat government with tacit support from the Social Democrats. Former Social Democratic prime minister Milos Zeman has also voiced support for the idea of a caretaker government. These scenarios are not preferred by Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, whose party won the elections but lacks a majority in parliament.

It is not clear whether the lower house will make another attempt to elect a new leadership on Friday. The Social Democrats have refused to put forward a candidate for the post of speaker and it seems there may not be anyone in the running.

President Klaus calls Senate and regional elections

President Vaclav Klaus has set the date for the upcoming Senate and regional elections, which will be held on October 20 - 21, 2006. Citizens will vote on 27 senatorial posts, a portion which equals one third of the upper house. Senators are voted in for a term of six years, and one-third of Senate seats come up for re-election every two years. The upper house has a total of 81 seats and holds the power to veto laws and return them to the lower house for further amendments. Civic Democratic Party candidates won the most support in the last Senate election, which took place in 2004. The senators elected in October 2006 will also take part in the next presidential vote, which will be in 2008.

Skoda Auto reaches ten million mark

The Skoda auto factory in Mlada Boleslav has reached a milestone with production hitting the ten million mark on Thursday. A silver Octavia Combi came off the production line to mark the anniversary, reached more than a 100 years after Skoda began making automobiles. The first Skoda car, a model Voiturette, came off the production line in 1905. Chairman of Skoda Auto, Detlef Wittig said that it took 86 years to produce the first five million cars, and only 15 years to produce another five million. According to the company's plan, Skoda hopes to manufacture another five million cars in the next ten years. Skoda Auto belongs to the Volkswagen Group and currently produces four models, mostly for sale on foreign markets.

Czechs and Americans establish new medical research center

Representatives of the Organic and Biochemistry Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences and the American biopharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, have signed an agreement on research cooperation. A new research center will be established in Prague, to which Gilead Sciences will contribute 1.1 million dollars (25 million Czech crowns) annually. The new research center will he headed by Czech scientist Antonin Holy and his team, who are also responsible for developing what is considered the best medicine for the treatment of AIDS. The agreement between the Czech scientific team and Gilead Sciences also includes financing of any approved drug patents.

Baby girl nearly sold on black market

Investigators of an organized crime unit in the west Bohemian city of Cheb have arrested three Czech men suspected of trying to sell a ten-month old baby girl on the black market. One of the suspects is the little girl's father. Police say that the baby girl was to be sold to the United Kingdom for about 100 000 Euro, or 2.8 million Czech crowns. Police searches of the suspects' homes uncovered evidence including a forged birth certificate. If found guilty, the suspects face up to eight years in prison. The western border region near Cheb has a history of problems with prostitution, including incidents of child prostitution.

Weather:

The next few days will bring partly cloudy skies and a slight drop in temperatures. We can expect daytime highs of 23 to 27 degrees Celsius, and meteorologists have issued warnings about torrential rain and hail-storms.