News Friday, DECEMBER 03th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Bill Bathurst, first we start with a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague, those were the headlines, now let’s take a look at the news in full:

CSSD deputies lash out at Zeman

Deputies of the governing Social Democrat party, have again criticised Premier Milos Zeman. Outraged deputies told reporters on Thursday that Zeman is constantly looking for a way to get rid of his Health Minister, without actually having to dismiss Ivan David himself. Others expressed their bewilderment at their leader’s behaviour, saying David is being publicly humiliated on a daily basis. This comes after calls rose on all sides for David’s resignation on grounds of incompetence. Zeman’s party already slammed their leader after he said earlier in the month that he would leave Ivan David’s future up to parliament. In the meantime, there has been speculation that a petition is being prepared, by health care experts, pleading David’s case, which will be sent to President Vaclav Havel who is widely expected at some point next week to accept the minister’s resignation. Although David says he is prepared to leave, Havel still has to assess the Health Minister’s recent report on work carried out at the ministry.

Zlin ODS calls for Klaus to leave

Vaclav Klaus, leader of the main opposition party, the Civic democrats, says he is not in the least disturbed by Thursday’s call for his resignation. A branch of the party, based in eastern Bohemia, said yesterday that Vaclav Klaus and Czech Premier Milos Zeman should resign. Klaus advised the Zlin based ODS members to take a long, hard look at themselves, saying this is the first he has heard of any discontent within the party.

The party branch in Zlin, said the Czech political scene needs rejuvenating and should not be weighed down by politicians settling personal scores. A local official said that although this would provoke an outcry in the party, the council firmly believes Klaus, Zeman and other leaders should leave, breaking the political deadlock in Prague. He added that a recent call by former student activists for the departure of current Czech politicians has been the impetus for Thursday’s announcement.

Activists to hold nation-wide demonstrations

Supporters of a group of former students who led the 1989 anti-Communist demonstrations and who called on Prague politicians earlier in the month to resign, are preparing to hold meetings in dozens of towns all over the country on Friday. The Prague meeting is set to take place on Wenceslas Square in the afternoon with supporters carrying banners calling for greater integrity among Czech leaders. The movement’s main committee, says it will reveal the demands contained in its secret six point plan. Observers say the plan almost definitely calls for an end to the power sharing deal between the Social Democrats and the main opposition party the Civic democrats. There has also been plenty of speculation that the activists could set up a political party.

Organisers have stressed in the run up to the demonstrations, that they want events to take place in a peaceful atmosphere and in Prague, have been keeping the police closely informed of their plans.

Parliament votes to reveal Communist crimes

Parliament on Thursday accepted a proposal lifting the secrecy statute on communist crimes. The law which will come into effect at the end of December, means the public will learn more about crimes committed during the communist regime (between 1948 and 1989) which went unpunished for various reasons. Furthermore, crimes which were also committed against groups or individuals for racial or political motives, will also be made public.

The proposal still has to be approved by the upper house of Parliament, the Senate and by President Vaclav Havel. Of the 179 deputies present on Thursday, 139 voted for the amendment to the law. The proposal was welcomed mainly by right wing parties. A member of the Freedom Union, praised it, saying Parliament had made a move towards dealing with the country’s past. Civic Democrat Deputy Marek Benda, whose family actively opposed the pre- 1989 communist regime, said on Thursday that just as Nazis who committed crimes, and were prosecuted after the Second World War, persecution and violations of human rights, during the communist era, must not be allowed to go unpunished.

Lobkowicz on Ruml’s resignation

Freedom Union member and former defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz said on Thursday that party leader Jan Ruml has made a statement and set an example by resigning from his job. Lobkowicz, who was in Paris attending a congress of the Western European Union, said he was not surprised Ruml had stepped down on Wednesday, adding that his former chief had spent a long time in politics and often said it was in a gridlock because of personal animosities. Lobkowicz also said Ruml’s departure would not see any drastic changes in the party.

Parliament turns down law on same sex registered partnerships

The Prague Parliament on Thursday, rejected an amendment to the law, granting homosexual partners the same legal rights as married couples. Of a 175 deputies, 91 voted against. The main argument against the motion was that it weakens the position of the traditional family. Those in favour said they saw no reason why sexual orientation should prevent people living together.

The decision showed that there is no majority which is either against or for the motion and although observers say political beliefs do not play a role in the issue, left wing parties do traditionally tend to support the idea of homosexual partners living together under the same conditions as though they were married.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

We are in for a fairly chilly day on Friday with daytime temperatures ranging from 4 to 7 degrees Celsius dropping overnight to zero. Skies will be overcast and cloudy with the possibility of some snow as the day progresses. This weather is set to continue into the weekend.