News Monday, JANUARY 19th, 1998

Radio Prague E news Date: January 19,1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Havel - radio speech

In his regular speech on Czech radio president Vaclav Havel has denied speculations about the Castle's "smuggling" its favourite people into the new Czech government. He compared Mr.Tosovsky's speedy formation of the new cabinet to a chess game and said it was an emergency solution. "I have heard a lot about the Castle, probably meaning me, smuggling into the cabinet friends and so on, but this, of course, is not true," said the president. The cabinet, - according to Havel - had not been formed in a standard situation within the parliamentary democracy, but had come into existence at a time when political parties were unable to reach an agreement. "If some people lost their posts during the formation of the new government, that doesn't mean they've lost their creditibility, stressed President Havel.

Presidential elections

At the historically first session of both parliamentary chambers, the Czech president's election will take place on Tuesday. There are three candidates for the post: president Vaclav Havel, Stanislav Fischer from the Communist party of Bohemia and Moravia and ultra-right Republican leader Miroslav Sladek. According to the first estimates, Havel could win support from 121 deputies out of 200 and 47 senators out of 81.

Right wing parties to unite

In a programme called "Debate" on Czech TV, Labour and Social affairs minister and member of the Freedom union Stanislav Volak and ODA deputy Pavel Bratinka have declared their willingness to create a pre- election right-wing coalition. Vlastimil Tlusty, acting chairman of the ODS deputies' club, also said this might happen. Bratinka opined that it would be irresponsible for the ODA and the Freedom Union to go to the parliamentary elections separately, as this would further split the right-wing political spectrum. Volak said that although his Union is prepared to have discussions about a possible coalition with the ODA , he was sceptical about these two parties merging before the elections.

New deputies' club

Deputies that have broken away from the Civic democratic party, ODS, will form in the House of deputies an independent Freedom Union deputies' club, and in Tuesday's presidential elections will raise their hands in favour of Vaclav Havel. The newly established party, the Freedom Union, also declared its support for the Josef Tosovsky cabinet, which will ask the House of Deputies for a confidence vote later this month. The ODS deputies' club recently split up more or less in half, but it is not yet clear how many deputies from the ODS deputies' club will enter the independent club of the Freedom Union and vote according to the new party's agreement.

Meeting on early elections

Another round of negotiations of representatives of all parliamentary parties about the date of early parliamentary elections and how they should be brought about is to be held on Moday. The meeting is again initiated by the Speaker of the House of deputies and leader of the Social democratic party, Milos Zeman, and it is to have the same content as the meeting held on January 11th. Premier Josef Tosovsky and chairmen of parliamentary parties or their deputies should attend today's negotiations. Zeman said, though, he did not know if representatives of the Freedom Union, a party that was established only last Saturday, were invited to the meeting.

MacKenzie in Prague

The Assistant Commander of NATO Allied forces in Europe, General Jeremy MacKenzie, arrived in the Czech republic on Sunday for a three- day official visit. General MacKenzie will hold talks on Monday with the Czech Defence minister Michal Lobkowitz, deputy Defence Minister Karel Kovanda and chairman of the Senate committee for foreign affairs, defence and security, Michael Zantovsky. This is the General's second visit to the Czech republic. He was here in January 1997, and in June of that year, he visited the commander's office of the Czech 6th SFOR mechanized batallion in Bosnia.


And finally a quick look at the weather: It will be cloudy in the Czech republic today with rain showers coming from the West and snow showers in the mountain areas. GThe afternoon higs between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.