News Sunday, JANUARY 16th, 2000

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Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, and we begin as usual with a brief news bulletin.

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Klaus, Zeman agree to strengthen "opposition agreement"

Leaders of the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats have agreed on amendments to their power-sharing pact to allow the minority left-wing government to remain in power. Social Democrat Prime Minister and Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus announced after five hours of talks on Friday that the two parties were working on a deal to allow the 2000 budget to win approval in parliament. The two men said further talks would focus on five areas, including changing the electoral system and a joint approach to EU-accession legislation. Friday's talks followed the Civic Democrats' rejection of the draft budget in December. Mr Klaus's party had also called for up to half of the cabinet to be sacked, but there was no mention of a possible reshuffle on Friday.

Members of "Thank You, Now Leave" form political party

Several members of a new civic association calling on the power-sharing pact to be scrapped and for Klaus and Zeman to leave politics have formed a new political party. Members of the "Thank You, Now Leave" movement met in the East Bohemian town of Pardubice on Friday to agree on the new party. However most members of the movement say they wish to stay out of party politics, and concentrate instead on civic initiatives.

Ex-Republican to launch "European Democratic Party"

Meanwhile another new political party is to be founded in the nearby town of Usti nad Orlici. One of the founders, Pavel Maixner, told reporters the party, to be named the European Democratic Party, would be a strongly pro-European party aimed at supporting thorough preparation for Czech membership of the European Union. Mr Maixner is a former M.P. for the far-right Republican Party, which campaigns heavily against EU membership. Mr Maixner said the European Democratic Party would be a right-of-centre pro-business party and would have nothing in common with the Republicans.

Disappointing turnout for hard-line Communist demonstration

Just three members of the hard-line Communist Party of Czechoslovakia turned up for a demonstration on Friday outside a spa where President Vaclav Havel is currently undergoing convalescence treatment. One of the three, a former member of the Communist secret police, told reporters the demonstration had been called off to avoid clashes with the security forces. He said his party had wanted to alert President Havel, whom he referred to as a mass murderer, to the high level of unemployment in the region.

Weather

And I´ll end as usual with a quick look at Sunday´s weather forecast. And it will be a mostly cloudy day in the Czech Republic, with snow and patches of fog in places. Temperatures will not rise above zero in the daytime, and will fall to minus eight at night.

I'm Rob Cameron and that's the end of the news.