News Thursday, JUNE 18th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news date: June 18th, 1998 Written/read by: Daniela Lazarova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

Election campaign over

The 1998 general election campaign has now officially ended. Czech legislation bans party promotion in any form in the last 48 hours before polling stations open. Meanwhile political observers are expecting the elections to produce a deadlock, to be followed by a lengthy period of intensive horsetrading, brokered by President Vaclav Havel. Numerous coalition scenarios are possible on the highly fragmented political scene, including a grand -left-right coalition, which some political observers claim has been secretly discussed by the two arch rivals.

Ruml says : no deal

Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml has sharply rejected claims that his party and the Christian Democrats are planning a merger after the elections. He said the idea had never been discussed, neither officially nor unofficially, by any member of the Freedom Union. Meanwhile the Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux appears to be open to the idea, telling the media that the two parties' policy programmes were "very close" and a merger in due time might prove advantageous for both.

Klaus under fire for poster

Meanwhile, a fresh row has broken out over the content of an ODS promotion poster which appeals on all Czechs who want to live in a free country to come to the polls and vote for the ODS. The appeal actually makes use of the term "mobilization", used only in extreme situations in the past, such as in the days preceding Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia. Klaus' opponents have suggested he has violated the law by spreading false alarms and even his potential right wing coalition partners had overstepped the boundaries of reason and good taste in his desire to beat his opposition arch-rival.

Demonstration against genocide

Some 100 Czechs turned out to demonstrate outside the Jugoslav embassy in Prague Wednesday against the genocide in Kosovo, some participants holding out a crude copy of Pablo Picasso's famous Guernica painting. Since embassy officials refused to accept a signed protest petition the organizers said they would send it by post. The demonstration ended without incident. According to the foreign ministry some 20 refugees from Kosovo have so far applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.

Holiday makers in Spain -safe

The foreign ministry has called off an alert for Czech tourists heading for Spain, in connection with an industrial accident which caused a rise in radiation levels in the country. Rudolf Hykl, head of the foreign ministry's press department said Wednesday that according to Spain's Nuclear Security Council all measurements were back to normal and presented no health hazards whatsoever. The leak is believed to have come from a steel plant accident in Gibraltar, when a machine containing the radioactive material Caesium-137 was accidentally melted down in a furnace along with other scrap metal . An investigation is underway.

Help for abused children

The proceeds of the June 1st red-noses charity event reportedly fall just short of 3 million crowns. Over 70,000 people in this country donned a clown's nose that day to help abused children. A British Airways representative on Wednesday handed over a symbolic check fashioned in the shape of a huge yellow telephone to Our Child Foundation chairwoman Zuzana Baudysova. Among other things the money will help finance toll-free help lines for abused children.

And finally, a look at the weather:

no significant change there. Thursday is expected to be partly-cloudy to overcast with scattered rainshowers and the possibility of afternoon thunder storms. Day temps between 16 and 20 degs C.