News Saturday, NOVEMBER 13th, 1999

Radio Prague E-news Date: November 13th, 1999 Written/read by: Ray Furlong

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Ray Furlong and we begin with a bulletin of news. First the headlines.

And now the news in more detail.


The fate of embattled Health Minister Ivan David has remained unclear after the latest remarks by Prime Minister Milos Zeman. He said he would not sack his unpopular Health Minister, but would allow Parliament to vote on whether he should stay in office or not. David is facing calls to go from centre-right opposition parties which have a majority in Parliament - making his departure from the ministry look likely. Earlier this week, Zeman linked David's fate to a health insurance bill. But he's now decided to give his minister a last lease of life. Zeman defended David's record at the Health Ministry and said he should be given a fair chance to convince deputies he's the right man for the job. However, David also has critics among the ruling Social Democrats themselves.


The deputy premier for European integration, Egon Lansky, also looks be about to lose his job. Premier Zeman is to discuss his future with him at Saturday's cabinet meeting. Lansky is expected to resign due to ill health. He has been widely criticised over EU criticism of Czech preparations for membership and because of a dispute over large sums of money he received on a bank account in Vienna. Meanwhile, the European Union has opened a new chapter of negotiations with the six fast-track candidates for membership - which includes the Czech Republic - on transport policy.


A Roma woman has decided to sue the local authorities in Usti nad Labem for building a controversial wall dividing Roma from other residents. The legal move is the latest twist in the dispute over the wall, which has been criticised by European Union officials as racial segregation. The lawsuit was announced after talks between Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Roma leaders who are campaigning for the wall to be demolished. They have been camped out by the wall for several days now. The wall was built after complaints by other locals about noise and lack of hygiene from the Roma. The town authorities have defied government opposition to the wall.


As the tenth anniversary of the fall of communism draws ever closer, a new opinion poll suggests Czechs have mixed feelings about it. A total of 55 percent of Czechs said they were glad the Velvet Revolution took place. But the poll also found there's just a slim majority of those who believe things are better now than they were before 1989. Only 29 percent think life is better now than it was during communist times - while 23 percent believe the situation was better then. Other respondents said things were about the same.


Just time now for a quick look at the weekend weather: Saturday will see fog and cloudy skies, and temperatures between two and five degrees Celsius - dropping to around zero overnight. On Sunday skies may clear in places, although there´s a chance of showers. Temperatures should range between three and seven degrees.