News Friday, SEPTEMBER 25th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 25.9.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, you are tuned to Radio Prague, first let's take 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:

Lux / Resignation

Leader of the centrist Christian democrats Josef Lux has resigned, revealing that he has chronic leukaemia. The party suddenly called a press conference on Thursday afternoon, and the announcement came shortly afterwards. After saying he was resigning for health reasons, Mr Lux told reporters that his deputy Jan Kasal has temporarily stepped in at the head of the party. He said that he found out about the illness just over ten days ago and that he is beginning a course of treatment. His doctors are currently searching for a bone marrow donor.

The forty two year old, an agricultural engineer by training, had led the Christian Democrats since 1990. He also played a key role in the November 1997 ousting of the then Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. The once portly Lux lost twenty kilos last year, giving rise to questions on his health. At the time he said the weight loss was the result of a successful diet.

Shortly after breaking the news, Josef Lux went to visit President Havel who expressed a wish to see him remain a part of the Czech political scene. ODS leader Vaclav Klaus who considered Lux one of his main political rivals, said the news of the illness was a reminder that there are more important things than everyday political intrigues and wished him a speedy recovery. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman also told reporters that he hopes to see Mr Lux retain his profile in politics. And there will be more later on in the programme on the reaction across the Czech political scene, to the news.

Mlynar / Elections

The Freedom Union's Club of deputies, will have a new Chairman as from next Wednesday. This announcement came on Thursday afternoon, after the current chief, Vladimir Mlynar told reporters that new elections will be held, and surprised everybody by revealing that he does not intend to take part. He says he wants to devote his attention to working for the right wing party as a deputy and mentioned that his decision not to stand for re-election is in the best interests of the Union.

Vladimir Mlynar has made his announcement at a time when party leader Jan Ruml is away on holiday. Observers say Mr Mlynar's resignation from his post at the head of the deputies club, may be an attempt to try for party leadership.

Health Ministry / Corruption

New Social Democrat health Minister Ivan David said on Thursday that the government's Clean Hands operation, aimed at uncovering various scams and corruption has revealed plenty of discrepancies in his ministry.

Observers say this latest revelation smacks of bribery and protectionism. Speaking to reporters, the director of the office in charge, said that so far investigators had only touched the tip of the iceberg.

He mentioned that large sums of money were going missing as far as cleaning the Ministry building and accommodation for employees was concerned. He said that after studying the books, other discrepancies have come to light, which need to be investigated.

One of the issues, is a hairdressers on the premises of the Health Ministry, which belongs to the daughter of a former section director. The rent being paid is 130 crowns per square metre annually. The market rate is closer to 6000 crowns. After making his statement for reporters, Health Minister Ivan David did say that his predecessors probably had no idea what was going on.

Svoboda / Budget

Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda said on Thursday that he expects the deficit for this year's budget to come to some 15 billion crowns.

Speaking at a meeting of Parliament's budget committee, he said that if the 1997 losses made by the bank "Konsolidacni Banka" are to be taken into account this deficit could rise to 25 billion.

The Czech finance minister added that economic results from the first eight months of this year were relatively promising, with revenues higher than expenditure.

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

Friday's weather will be much the same as Thursday's, with a foggy, chilly start to the day. This will clear up towards lunchtime, making way for plenty of sunshine. Daytime temperatures will range from 18 to 22 degrees celsius, dropping during the night to as low as 4 degrees celsius in some parts of the country.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.