The centre right Civic Democratic Party will put forward a bill on a referendum on the European Constitution. The proposed bill relates to this particular referendum alone, and stipulates under what conditions it should be held. Posing a simple yes-or-no question, the referendum should be preceded by an in-depth informative campaign and should take place before the end of the year. The leading opposition party of Civic Democrats are opposed to the European Constitution in its present form and have repeatedly warned Czechs that it would restrict the sovereignty of their country.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, the acting head of the Social Democrats, over the weekend won the support of three regional party branches in his bid to become party chairman. The Social Democrats are due to elect a new leadership at the party's national conference in late March. Prime Minister Gross' main rival for the nomination is Zdenek Skromach, the Labour and Social Affairs Minister, who garnered little support at the weekend vote.
Czechs contributed another 35 million crowns in relief aid to the afflicted countries over the weekend, bringing the total amount to 185 million crowns, the biggest ever collection for an overseas disaster in the country's history. Charities are now mainly focussing on helping orphans, supplying hospitals and rebuilding fishing villages in the devastated region. The Czech government has contributed 15 million crowns in aid and pledged another 200 million for reconstruction of the stricken region.
Josef Fischera, a WWII veteran and leading figure of the Czechoslovak exile community in France has died at the age of 93. The funeral is to take place in Kolin, central Bohemia where Fishera's family has its tomb. Fishera was active in the French resistance movement during World War II and helped save dozens of Jewish children. He earned a number of decorations, including the French Legion of Honour, the Czech order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. After the war Fishera taught social sciences at Sorbonne University.
President Vaclav Klaus is expected to nominate Czech National Bank head Zdenek Tuma for another six-year term as bank governor. Citing unnamed sources, the daily Hospodarske Noviny reports that the economist Miroslav Singer of the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers and long-time Klaus adviser Robert Holman, a professor at the Prague-based University of Economics, will be named to the central bank's governing board; the former CEO of the Czech consolidation agency, Pavel Rezabek, is also thought to be in the running.
The Czech public has donated 160 million crowns in aid to south-east Asia, the biggest collection to help overseas disaster victims in the history of the Czech Republic. The Czech government has contributed 15 million crowns in aid and pledged another 200 million for reconstruction of the stricken region.
The Czech retail watchdog intends to slap the French supermarket giant Carrefour with a heavy fine for misleading shoppers in a major post-Christmas sale campaign. The director of the Czech Trade Inspectorate Jiri Pekny said Carrefour was guilty of breaking the consumers law by announcing price cuts from inflated initial prices and charging customers more than the advertised sale prices at check-outs. Trade inspectors visited the company's ten stores in the Czech Republic after receiving hundreds of complaints from customers in a single day. Carrefour denies the allegations.
Fourteen Czechs remain unaccounted for in the wake of the Indian Ocean
disaster, eight of the missing are feared dead. The Czech Republic has
only one confirmed casualty so far - a 24 year old woman.
News of an alleged second Czech casualty have not been confirmed. The
Czech ambassador to Bangkok Jiri Sitler said on Saturday that attempts to
identify the body had failed and that a DNA test would be necessary.
Meanwhile, experts have been taking DNA samples from relatives of the eight Czechs believed to have died. The first results have already been sent to the afflicted region in order to aid the identification process. The Czech Foreign Ministry has now openly acknowledged the possibility that the bodies of some Czech victims may already have been buried in mass graves.
The second reactor of the Temelin nuclear power plant was closed down on Sunday due to a cooling failure in a secondary generator. The plant's spokesman said the technical problem did not involve any nuclear aspects of the 1,000 megawatt reactor and did not pose a health hazard. Repair work is expected to take several days.
The child sexual abuse charges against choirmaster Bohumil Kulinsky have been extended to include the testimonies of several more girls. According to the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily the new witnesses include a girl who earlier told the media that she had had sex with Kulinsky when she was only twelve. The police have questioned hundred of girls who passed through the prestigious Bambini di Praga choir and say they have serious evidence against Kulinsky. The choirmaster, who has been in custody since late November, denies the charges. The choir which Kulinsky has headed since 1976 is made up of girls and boys aged 12 to 19. It performs with leading Czech and international orchestras and performs abroad several times a year.