News Wednesday, JANUARY 28th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS, and we start as usual with the news:

The new Czech government won a vote of confidence from the House of Deputies on Wednesday. The cabinet was facing a tough fight, with much of the assembly undecided over whether to back Tosovsky's government. With the ultra-right Republicans, the communists and most of Klaus's ODS voting against the cabinet, the Social democrats' "yes" was of vital importance in the free vote. Following a broad political consensus, Tosovsky's govermment requested a limited mandate and pledged to lead the country to early parliamentary elections in June. Its policy statement envisages going ahead with reforms such as privatization, deregulation of rents and household energy prices and pursuing the Czech republic's key foreign policy goals - admission into NATO and the European Union. In his speech before the house of deputies prior to the vote, premier Tosovsky said that when a question was raised about his government keeping all its promises, his answer must be that this is not in the hands of the cabinet but of the deputies. Some of them demand these guarantees, other reject them. His government, Tosovsky added, wants to pursue a transparent policy and inform both deputies and citizens about all its moves. Tosovsky also said that his government was willing to meet the Social democrats half way, and submit its timetable for the transformation steps in the sphere of privatization, as well as deregulation of prices.

The Pensioners for life certainties party wants to stage an anti- government demonstration in mid February. According to pensioners, the present cabinet's policy is directed against the weakest strata of the population, which makes it unacceptable for elderly citizens. The Chairman of the party, Eduard Kremilcka, said this at a press conference on Wednesday. According to him, the present cabinet was formed in an illegimate way, because it had not come out of general elections. Kremlicka further said that the cabinet's policy statement was not concrete and that if the prepared deregulation of prices of rents and energy is implemented, then there will be more demonstrations in the spring.

The ultra-right Republican party has challenged president Havel's re- election by filing a protest to the Constitutional court on Wednesday, in which party leader Miroslav Sladek has reguested that the presidential election be declared invalid. The President of the Constitutional court in Brno, Zdenek Kessler, told this to the CTK news agency on Wednesday. Sladek justifies his request by stating that president Havel was elected when Sladek was in police detention and not allowed to vote. The president won by a narrow majority of only one vote.

Karel Jungwiert has become the first representative of the Czech republic in the new permanent European Court for human rights, which will start its work at the end of the year. The leadership of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe announced this on Thursday. Each of the 40 countries present on the Council of Europe has the right to have one seat in the new court and is able to propose three candidates. To be elected in a secret ballot, every candidate needed support from an absolute majority - that's more than one half of the 286 - member assembly. Mr. Jungwiert was chosen by the Czech Foreign ministry and will have a 6-year long mandate in this new European institution.