News

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President Klaus to mediate coalition talks

President Klaus is to meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties in the course of Thursday and Friday to try to resolve the post-election stalemate. 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. These scenarios were in turn rejected 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.

In a related development, the leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik has accused the leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek of trying to win over some Green Party deputies in order to gain the upper hand in the lower house. Mr. Bursik did not name any names but said he was aware of what was going on and wanted the public to know what was happening.

US military experts to visit Czech Republic

A team of American military experts are due to arrive in the Czech Republic next week to consider possible sites for a US missile base in central Europe. The visit has been described as a fact finding mission which places no commitment on the Czech Republic. Washington is also considering possible sites in Poland and Hungary. The possibility of having a US missile base on Czech territory has evoked mixed reactions in the Czech Republic, although several Czech politicians have already given the idea their support. Such a move would have to be approved by both houses of parliament.

Ombudsman investigates controversial case

An investigation into a battle over the rights of two children by the Ombudsman's Office has gone in favor of their Argentine father. The Ombudsman said on Wednesday that the children's mother Marcela Krajinkova had violated the law - in effect abducted them - when she took them out of the country without their father's consent. The mother took her case to court in the Czech Republic hoping to be allowed to keep her children on the grounds that she was allegedly physically and psychologically abused by her husband in Argentina. When the court ruled that her two children should go back to Argentina she appealed to the Ombudsman for help.

Inflation statistics

Czech consumer price inflation slowed in June to 2.8 percent on a 12-month basis from 3.1 percent in May, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Wednesday. A rise in the costs of food and non-alcoholic drinks was the main factor fuelling inflation with the price of cereals and bread rising by 5.2 percent from the figures in May, the office said.

Weather:

The next few days should bring partly cloudy skies and temperatures between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists have issued warnings about torrential rain and hail-storms in the coming 24 hours.