News Sunday, DECEMBER 05th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

KSCM, ODS hold GMs

The two strongest political parties in the Czech Republic, the Civic Democratic Party, and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia are holding their annual congresses this weekend. They are expected to elect new leaders and decide on their policies.

Klaus does not see right-of-center coalition as good option

The leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, who is expected to be re-elected to this post, praised the current party leadership but in his view, the party's shadow cabinet could work harder.

Leaders of the other two right-of-center parties, the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats, who were present at the congress, offered the Civic Democratic Party a coalition to replace the minority Social Democrat government.

Klaus rejected this possibility, describing it as the least stable solution to the current political stalemate. The Civic Democrats still see a coalition of all the non-communist parties represented in the Parliament as the best option.

Communists aim to restore socialism

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia is also holding its annual congress at the weekend. They are expected to re-elect the current leader Miroslav Grebenicek and his deputy Vlastimil Balin.

The Communists claim that it is necessary to revise the privatisation process, push for a mixed-economy model combining both private ownership and state control over strategic branches of industry. They also want to impose extra taxation on high- income groups and save state finance by abolishing the upper house of Parliament, the Senate.

But as party leader Miroslav Grebenicek stressed, the main aim of the Communist Party is the restoration of socialism in the Czech Republic.

100,000 Czechs demonstrate against Zeman and Klaus

More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Czech cities and towns late on Friday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus. The mainly youthful crowds - including an estimated 50,000 in Prague -accused the two of "arrogance" and "power-seeking". The demonstrations were called by student leaders of the 1989 "velvet revolution" which overturned the communist regime. A petition "Thank You - Now Get Out" compiled by six of the student leaders calls on the country's political leaders to resign and clear the way for a fresh start in Czech political life. To date, it has been signed by 150,000 people.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered snow showers, afternoon highs should range from 1 degree Celsius below zero to 3 above. The beginning of next week should be warmer but also rather cloudy with occasional rain showers, with highest daytime temperatures slightly above zero.

And that's the end of the news.