News of Radio Prague

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Social Democrats to lead coalition with Christian Democrats, Freedom Union

The Social Democrats have agreed on the forming of a new government with the two parties in the Coalition grouping, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union. After talks on Wednesday night, the leader of the Christian Democrats, Cyril Svoboda, said that negotiations on the division of ministries should be completed in the next few days. The Social Democrats, who are led by Prime Minister-to be Vladimir Spidla and came first in elections almost three weeks ago, are to have 10 cabinet seats; the other two parties will have six between them. The number of deputy chairs in the Chamber of Deputies will reflect the number of seats held by all five parties in the lower house. The Social Democrats will have the chairmanship and one deputy chair, the Civic Democrats two deputy chairs and the other parties, including the Communists, will have one each.

Senate approves honour for Edvard Benes, author of post-war decrees

The Czech Senate has approved the posthumous bestowing of the Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, on Edvard Benes, the country's second president. It is now up to President Vaclav Havel to decide whether Mr Benes, who died in 1948, will - along with 35 other nominees - be given the Order of TG Masaryk. The honour came into existence in 1990. Mr Benes's name has been in the news a great deal in recent months, as he was the author of the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's German minority after World War II. There have been many calls in Germany and Austria for the Benes decrees to be abolished.

Exporters want action soon against strong crown

The Exporters' Association has called on the government and the Czech National Bank to take action soon against the strength of the Czech crown. The strength of the crown in recent months has had a negative impact on their business, and association member Jiri Grund said on Wednesday that some exporters were considering quitting the export business altogether. The crown broke its record against the euro last week, and now stands at 29.38 crowns to the euro.

Government approves funding for Kavan in United Nations post

The government has approved funding for the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, if he becomes the next chairman of the United Nations General Assembly. Mr Kavan is the only candidate for the post. The Czech Foreign Ministry is to pay over 50 million crowns in funding this year, and almost 60 million next year. Mr Kavan is expected to be formally elected on July 8, and take up the post in September.

Former policeman accused of kidnap

A former police officer who was expelled from the force has been charged with kidnapping. Police say he and another man kidnapped a girl in Trutnov, east Bohemia, and demanded a ransom of 800,000 Czech crowns from her father. When the father said he did not have the money, the kidnappers gave him instructions as to where to find his daughter.

Weather

Thursday is expected to be cloudy with showers in places, and temperatures are due to range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.