News Friday, JANUARY 16th, 1998

Radio Prague E-news Date: 16.1.1998 Written/read by: David Vaughan

Hello and a warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm David Vaughan. First the headlines.

And now the news in more detail.

Government Dissolution Plans

The Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky has presented a bill to parliament, which is intended to pave the way towards an early general election. The government plans for the bill deliberately not to be debated in parliament within the period demanded by the constitution, the deadline being the 15th of April. This will amount to default and will enable the president to dissolve parliament and open the way for a general election in June. The cabinet considers this somewhat unconventional method to be the easiest way to achieve an early election in the early summer without resorting to changing the constitution.

The 27th of January is rapidly emerging as the most likely date for a parliamentary vote of confidence in Mr Tosovsky's cabinet.

Klaus Deputy Resigns

One of ex-Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's closest political allies, Bohdan Dvorak, has resigned as deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party. In his resignation letter Mr Dvorak made it clear that he was not happy with the way some prominent party members were treating investigations into the party's finances. However he did not mention any specific names. Party leader Klaus said that he believed the resignation was the result of intense media pressure, and he denied that Mr Dvorak had resigned because others in the party leadership were trying to cover up the truth. Mr Dvorak was elected deputy leader at last month's special party conference, when the Civic Democratic Party promised to clear up uncertainties over its finances.

Writer's Son Commits Suicide

The forty-three-year-old son of the Czech emigre writer Ota Filip has committed suicide at his home in the German city of Bochum. German police said that Pavel Filip, who was a professor of mathematics, left a suicide note in his appartment, and was later found in the cellar of the house. His suicide comes at a time when his father has been exposed to intense media attention, after a German television documentary accused him of having collaborated with the former Czechoslovak communist secret police, the StB. German police found a copy of the magazine Der Spiegel on Pavel Filip's desk, containing an interview with his father in connection with the accusations, but they have not confirmed whether the suicide was directly connected with recent events.

New Czech Negotiator with EU

Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka has been nominated to head the special negotiating team to conduct negotiations beginning in the spring over the conditions for the Czech Republic to join the European Union. Mr Telicka replaces Cyril Svoboda who has been named Interior Minister in the new Czech government. The rapid appointment of a new negotiator was immediately welcomed by Brussels, as a signal that the Czech Republic takes EU talks seriously even at a time of internal political crisis.

Opinion Poll

Despite the recent fragmentation of the political right, a newly published opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research suggest that most Czechs sympathise with the right or the political centre. In the poll 36 percent said they supported the centre, 19 percent the centre- right, and 11 percent said they were firmly right-wing. But at the same time other polls suggest that support for the parties of the right has fallen significantly over the past months.

Milk Cartel Accusations

Czech dairies have denied accusations that they have taken advantage of a Finance Ministry decision to raise the minimum milk price, and are charging consumers excessive prices for dairy products. The head of the Czech Dairy Producers' Association, Jaromir Lukas, said that the increase in the price of milk, compounded with other expenses, such as fuel and packaging, had made a significant jump in prices inevitable. He denied claims that the dairy industry is inefficient and overstaffed, pointing out that in recent years thirty percent of Czech dairies have closed down.


And finally a quick look at the weather.

Friday is set to be a cloudy day with showers and temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius. Over the weekend we can expect it to get colder, with further showers, some falling as snow, and temperatures between zero and 6 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.