News of Radio Prague

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President Havel appoints Vladimir Spidla prime minister

President Vaclav Havel has appointed Vladimir Spidla prime minister of the Czech Republic. On Friday Mr Spidla became the country's fifth prime minister since the fall of communism in 1989. Mr Spidla's Social Democratic Party came first in elections to the lower house in mid-June, and he has formed a coalition with the centrist Christian Democrats and the right-wing Freedom Union.

New government passed test, says Havel

Commenting on the election of a new chairman of the lower house on Thursday, Mr Havel said that if the vote was a test, the new government had passed it. Lubomir Zaoralek of the Social Democrats became chairman after a second vote, seeing off a challenge from current chair Civic Democrat Vaclav Klaus, who stood against Mr Zaoralek to test the cohesion of the new government, which has a majority of one.

Former Prague mayor Jan Kasl registers new political party

A new political party formed by the ex-mayor of Prague Jan Kasl has applied to the Interior Ministry for registration. The party are called the European Democrats and they plan to first concentrate on elections to Prague Town Hall in November, and to launch themselves nationwide in two years time. Mr Kasl resigned as mayor and quit the Civic Democratic Party in late May, after clashes with fellow party members over allegations he had made about corruption at the Town Hall.

Analysts say central bank covertly intervened against crown

Some analysts believe the Czech central bank has been covertly trading in Czech crowns through commercial banks and is behind the fall in the strength of the currency in the last two days. While on Wednesday the crown stood at a record 28.85 crowns to the Euro, on Friday at 11 am it was trading at 29.45 to the euro. The Czech National Bank has refused to comment on suggestions that it has secretly provoked the losses. The export and tourism industries have been hit hard by the strength of the crown in recent months.

Sean Connery out of Karlovy Vary closing ceremony with illness

The Scottish film star Sean Connery has had to pull out of the closing ceremony of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival due to illness. Festival organisers said that the 71-year-old actor, who is filming in the Czech Republic, was suffering from a viral infection. Mr Connery , famous for his performances in the early James Bond films, was due to receive an award for his long-term contribution to world cinema at Karlovy Vary, and organisers are now trying to find a way to get the award to him. The film festival comes to a close on Saturday night.

Weekend weather

Saturday should be partially cloudy with rain and possibly storms in places. Temperatures will be highest in north Moravia, where they could reach 30 degrees Celsius. Similar temperatures are expected on Sunday, which should be cloudy with more storms likely.