News Wednesday, JANUARY 21st, 1998

Radio Prague E-news Date: 21.1.1998 Written/read by: David Vaughan

Hello and a warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm David Vaughan. First the headlines.

And now the news in more detail.

Presidential Election

At their first ever joint session the two houses of the Czech Parliament have reelected President Vaclav Havel for a second five-year term of office. In the first round of voting he came short of winning an overall majority from both houses, despite coming way ahead of the other two candidates, the Communist, Stanislav Fischer, and the leader of the far-right Republicans, Miroslav Sladek. Neither of the other candidates won enough votes to go through to the second round, and as a result Mr Havel required a straight majority of those present from both houses in order to be reelected. In the end he scraped through by one vote in the lower house, with the votes of 99 of the 197 deputies present, and 47 of the 81 Senators. After the result was announced the deputy leader of the extreme right-wing Republican Party, Jan Vik, said that his party did not respect the result, because the party leader Miroslav Sladek was not allowed to vote. Mr Sladek is currently in police custody, and shortly before voting began the assembly voted not to allow him to take part. Jan Vik said that he would take his party's objections to the constitutional court.

Further Step by New Party

The Freedom Union, the new party set up by rebels from ex- Prime Minister Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, has appointed former Interior Minister Jan Ruml to head its parliamentary party, made up of twenty-eight deputies who defected from the Civic Democrats. Mr Ruml said that the Freedom Union hopes to be able to take part in Thursday's multi-party meeting with President Havel, to discuss the conditions under which the new government could win next week's vote of confidence. President Havel's spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, said that the new party will be invited as long as it manages to complete its registration as a political party in time for the meeting.

More Leave Klaus Party

On Tuesday the Defence Minister, Michal Lobkowicz, officially announced his resignation from the Civic Democratic Party, making him the last of the four former party members in the new government to do so. In a further blow to Mr Klaus's party, the former Foreign Minister, Josef Zieleniec, has said that he too has left the Civic Demcorats. He told the CTK press agency that the only people who now remain in the party are those who believe that lies and financial corruption are legitimate political tools.

NATO Representative in Prague

The deputy chief commander of NATO forces in Europe, General Jeremy Mackenzie, has ended a three-day visit to the Czech Republic, during which he discussed the country's progress towards NATO membership. The head of the defence and security committee of the Czech lower house, Petr Necas, said he had assured General Mackenzie that early elections are very unlikely to result in any lessening of the Czech Republic's commitment to joining the Alliance. Mr Necas also said that the Czech Republic is committed to continuing its active role in peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, and plans to keep at least one division in Bosnia, as part of the multi-national force. / General Mackenzie welcomed these assurances and thanked the Defence Minister, Michal Lobkowicz for the Czech Republic's contribution in the former Yugoslavia.

Nuclear Power Plant

A prominent figure in the Austrian Green Party, Rudi Anschober, has said that the fall of Vaclav Klaus's government in the Czech Republic has brought with it a real chance of stopping the completion of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. He said that Temelin's strongest supporters are no longer in power, and that this fact, combined with growing financial problems linked to its completion, now mean that there is more than a fifty-fifty chance that the project will be abandoned.


And finally a look at the weather... Tomorrow will be a cold day with snow showers coming in from the north-east, and temperatures between zero and four degrees Celsius. And we can expect the colder to stay with us for the next few days.

And that's the end of the news.