News Saturday, FEBRUARY 26th, 2000

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Approval of law uncertain

The Communist Party says it will do everything in its power to block the approval of a law designed to prevent the export of nuclear power plant components to Iran. A leading party official said the communists would not stand by and watch the country's economic interests damaged. Although the Speaker of Parliament Vaclav Klaus has declared a state of legislative emergency in order for the law to be approved in time to prevent the sale there is still plenty of uncertainty among members of the Lower House. Social Democrat Member of Parliament Robert Kopecky told the CTK news agency that he personally was against the law since if a Czech firm backed out of the deal, someone else would most certainly supply the respective components. Civic Democratic Party deputy Petr Kohacek echoed this sentiment. The Czech government has been urged by American and British top officials to block a 300 million dollar deal under which the Czech company ZVVZ Milevsko is to provide Iran with components for the Bushehr power station on the grounds that the program may be misused for military purposes.

Civic Democrats want action

The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party has increased pressure on the Prime Minister with respect to a pending Cabinet reshuffle. At a meeting of the party leadership, the Civic Democrats concluded that the present situation was untenable and urged Prime Minister Zeman to show his hand. The Civic Democrats have hinted that unless the reshuffle happens by the budget's third reading in Parliament they may not support it. Criticism has come from the Prime Minister's own party ranks, with members of his own Cabinet describing the procrastination as an "inhumaine and unethical approach".

Czechs mark 52nd anniversary of communist takeover

The signatories of the Thank You, Please Leave petition have organized a gathering on Wenceslas Square to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Communist takeover in February of 1948 and bow to the memory of victims of communist persecution. The organizers have also stated that they want to use the occasion to issue a fresh warning about the danger of the current opposition agreement between the Social and Civic Democrats . The decision to link the communist-takeover anniversary with the country's present problems has met with mixed reactions. The Brno branch of the Thank You, Please Leave petition has expressed the view that this is inappropriate, saying its own policy was to hold regular debates with the public .

Finally a look at the weather: The weekend should bring partly cloudy skies, with scattered showers and intervals of sunshine . Day temps between 3 and 7 degs C. Nighttime lows dropping to 5 degs below O.