President says he will not accept PM's resignation
President Klaus has said he will not accept Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's resignation until the new lower house of parliament is fully functional. The prime minister announced this week that he would tender his resignation on Monday, triggering the fall of his government and opening the way for a new administration. However the balance of forces in the lower house -where the centre-left and centre right now have 100 seats each - has made it impossible to elect a new leadership and will make it difficult for the centre-right coalition headed by the Civic Democrats to be voted into office. President Klaus said that it would be utterly irresponsible to accept the prime minister's resignation under such circumstances.
Centre right coalition leaders want to negotiate
Meanwhile, the leaders of the newly-formed centre right coalition have called for talks with the Social Democrats which would help to find a way out of the political stalemate. The head of the Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek said the talks should take place early next week and focus on breaking the deadlock in the lower house and formulating the conditions under which the Social Democrats would be prepared to tolerate a centre-right government. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has countered that the centre right coalition is dead and has suggested holding talks only between the Civic and Social Democrats.
Hydro-meteorologists issue severe flood alert
The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute issued a severe flood alert for areas near the southern border with Austria and Slovakia on Friday after heavy rains raised rivers to dangerous levels. The weather service said more rain was on the way during the weekend, and would put further pressure on swollen rivers that have already burst their banks in several areas, some of which were just starting to return to normal after floods in 1997. It gave the most serious flood warning for the Dyje river in the southeast. A number of villages have been already been flooded, others are on high alert and people have been erecting sand barriers to try and protect their property.
Lab tests confirm poisonous gas in storage site near Pardubice
Laboratory tests have confirmed that a recently uncovered storage site of chemical substances near Pardubice in Eastern Bohemia contained the poisonous gas phosgene. The storage site of hazardous chemicals, including cyanide and salts of heavy metals was uncovered in a former industrial area by environmental inspectors in mid-June. The surrounding premises were evacuated as teams of fire-fighters, police and soldiers combed the grounds. Soil monitoring is to be carried out in the area for some time.
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens Friday
The 41st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens in the west Bohemian spa town on Friday evening. A total of 230 films and documentaries will be presented at the festival, including the world premiere of Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's latest work, "Time." The Czech film industry, which boycotted the Cannes film festival to protest a lack of state subsidies, says it will nonetheless attend the country's premier film event, an industry official said. Czech producers and directors are due to meet with Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, who is widely expected to be the country's next prime minister, on Saturday to discuss public funding schemes for the industry.
The weekend is expected to bring temperatures between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. The persistent rain which has swollen rivers in some parts of the country should abate on Saturday afternoon.