News

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Leaders of emerging coalition agree on programme, ministerial posts

The leaders of a proposed centre-right government of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens have agreed on a coalition programme and the distribution of ministerial posts. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats, which won most votes in the general election earlier this month, will hold ten seats in the cabinet, including the premiership. The two other parties will hold three seats each. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek is slated to be the next prime minister; the head of the Greens, Martin Bursik, could be the country's next Environment Minister, and the leader of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, the Agriculture Minister.

While a new post of Minister without portfolio for European Affairs is to be introduced, the coalition is proposing the abolition of the Ministry for Information Technology and the Ministry for Regional Development. The coalition agreement is to be signed on Monday. Parliament is to begin meeting on Tuesday. Miroslav Topolanek expects a confidence vote on the new government to take place in about four weeks' time.

Communists to support Social Democrats' lower house speaker

The leader of the Communists, Vojtech Filip, has said his party would support the Social Democrats' candidate for the post of lower house speaker. The vote is scheduled for next Thursday. Election of the speaker is a precondition for the old government to step aside to make way for the new. The speaker also elects a prime minister, should two attempts at forming a government fail. The three parties of the emerging centre-right coalition are expected to vote for Civic Democrat candidate Miroslava Nemcova but the Social Democrats would like the current speaker, Lubomir Zaoralek, to remain in the post.

Civic Democrat MP suffers stroke

Meanwhile, the emerging three-party coalition came close to a crisis after one of its MPs - Civic Democrat Milos Patera, suffered a stroke and had to be rushed to hospital on Friday. The coalition is already one vote short of a majority in parliament. Without Mr Patera it would only have 99 deputies in the 200-seat lower house during the crucial voting for the new speaker of parliament.

No official details on Milos Patera's state of health have been revealed but according to Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlusty, his party colleague is well enough to take part in next week's vote.

Two injured in scaffolding collapse in Brno

Two people were injured and some 15 cars demolished when three floors of scaffolding collapsed at a building site in the Moravian city of Brno. The accident happened during restoration work at a building next to the luxurious hotel Grand in the city centre. A 50-year old man and a 21-year old woman, who were caught under the rubble, were recovered from the scene and taken to hospital. Doctors say they have miraculously got away with light injuries. An investigation into the accident has been launched.

Too few ordained priests

The number of new ordained Catholic priests in the Czech Republic is failing to make up for the number of priests passing away, Czech Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said on Saturday. There are currently 1,800 priests in the Czech Republic but some ten percent are from Poland. Many priests are responsible for more than one parish. In the Prague and Central Bohemia regions, for example, priests reside in only 140 of the 250 vicarages. At a ceremony on Saturday, Cardinal Vlk ordained three new men at Prague's St. Vitus' Cathedral.

Czech Army celebrates Day of the Ground Forces

The Czech Army celebrated a Day of the Ground Forces on Saturday. Dozens of thousands of spectators flock to west Bohemia's Strasice near Rokycany every year to watch presentations of military technology and various operations of Czech and also foreign forces. One of the main highlights this year is the presentation of the new Pandur II, which the Czech Army will be adding to its fleet of light armoured vehicles in 2007. The annual "Bahna 2006" event is held for the seventeenth time.

Weather

The weekend is expected to see sunny weather with temperatures reaching highs of up to 30 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists warn of rain and thunder storms around the country on Sunday night and throughout the first half of the week.