News of Radio Prague

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Havel's health stable, using time to prepare for trip to U.S.

President Vaclav Havel's health condition has stabilised and he is expected to be released from hospital in the course of next week. According to his spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, Mr Havel has been using the time to prepare topics of discussion and speeches for his planned one-week trip to the United States, scheduled for September 17th. After his release from hospital, he is expected to spend a week recuperating at Lany chateau, the presidential country retreat West of Prague. The president was forced to cut short a visit to France on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties and has been in Prague's military hospital ever since. Mr Havel, who is 65, has suffered from chronic bronchitis since an operation in 1996 to remove a malignant tumour from his right lung. A team of doctors will meet on Monday to decide on what day he will be released from hospital.

Havel criticised over presidential pardons

And whilst in hospital, the President Havel was critised by the recently elected speaker of the lower house, Lubomir Zaoralek, on Sunday over the granting of pardons to suspected criminals. According to Mr Zaoralek, presidential pardons should never be granted before a court's ruling. Speaking in a TV discussion programme, he added that the president's office should also be obliged to give a reasoning for every pardon, with the ability to defend each decision. Communist Deputy Chairperson Zuzka Rujbrova, who also took part in the discussion programme, compared Mr Havel to a feudal lord, claiming that his way of granting pardons disparaged/belittled the work of the justice system. This year, President Havel has already granted 52 pardons, with the most recent involving Rostislav Zelenka who killed a man and his eight-year old son whilst over speeding and left the scene of the accident without reporting to the police.

CSNS out of money

The Czech National Social Party (CSNS), which once was one of the country's richest political parties, is in debt and has neither the money nor property to pay it off. In its pre-election campaign the party spent almost 37.5 million Czech crowns (a little over 1.2 million U.S. dollars), 12.5 million more than what had been originally planned. However, it only won a mere 0.8 % vote, failing to make it into parliament. The party's leadership blames former chairman Jan Sula for mismanagement and intends to lodge a criminal complaint against him. The CSNS was established in 1995 when the Free Democrats and the Liberal National Social Party merged. It considers itself a successor to the Czech National Social Party of the inter-war period, from which it inherited a large amount of property. At present the party has close to 3.000 members.

Union wants to run in 15 of 27 Senate constituencies

The Freedom Union wants to field candidates in 15 of the 27 constituencies to be contested in the Senate elections this autumn, thus leaving 12 constituencies to the Christian Democrats. Although the two parties make up the centre-right Coalition grouping, which has just formed a new government with the Social Democrats, they agreed earlier this week to go into the Senate elections separately. The Christian Democrats currently have 19 representatives in the 81-seat Senate, with six mandates ending in the autumn. The Freedom Union has eight mandates with none of its senators' terms ending this year. A total of 27 of the upper house's 81 seats will be contested in November. All political parties and individuals have until August 20, to submit the names of candidates over the age of forty taking part in the Senatorial elections.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Sunday's thunder storms and strong winds that swept across the country are expected to lower Monday's day-time temperatures significantly, resulting in overcast to partially clear skies with scattered showers and temperatures between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius.