Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka says that after the signing of a coalition agreement on a new centre-left government on Monday it will be up to the president to make the next step. In an interview for Czech Television on Sunday, Mr. Sobotka said that the ball was now in the president’s court and the logical next step would be for President Zeman to appoint him prime minister. Should the president have legitimate reservations to any of the ministerial nominees, Mr. Sobotka said he would be prepared to take office and temporarily administrate their portfolios as well until a new candidate was agreed on. However he stressed that he would only be prepared to make changes on the list of nominees for legally justifiable reasons, not personal animosities.
Twelve illegal weapons, among them pistols and submachine guns, were uncovered during a search of the Palestinian ambassador’s new residence in Prague shortly after his death in an explosion on Wednesday, Police President Martin Červíček told Czech Television. He said a ballistic expertise was now underway. The police had previously refused to specify the number of weapons found, leading to speculation that there may have been up to 70 illegal weapons on the premises.
TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg has called for greater public responsibility for the future of the country. In a speech delivered on Three Kings Day, Mr. Schwarzenberg said that in the past year certain groups and individuals had tested and sometimes crossed the limits of their powers in a democratic state and it was disconcerting that the public had reacted with apathy and disinterest to this threat. The TOP 09 leader said he realized that people had good reason to be disenchanted with Czech politics, as he himself often was, but he said the only way to affect a moral rebirth was for the public to be more aware and take greater responsibility for the fate of democracy in the country.
A number of business leaders nominated for ministerial posts in the emerging centre-left coalition government will have to give up their posts at the head of successful companies, the internet news site novinky.cz writes. The paper says this concerns predominantly candidates for the ANO party which prides itself on nominating successful managers to top posts rather than seasoned politicians. Under the conflict of interests law members of government cannot run private businesses or sit on the executive board of companies. For instance ANO leader Andrej Babis will have to cut his ties to AGROFERT, his agricultural, chemical and food processing empire said to be worth 40 to 100 billion crowns.
Hundreds of people turned out on Sunday to see the traditional procession of Three Kings - a re-enactment of the journey of the Three Wise Men to visit the infant Jesus – which annually marks the end of the Christmas festivities in Prague. The procession made its way from Prague Castle to the nearby Loretto Square, where a live nativity scene had been set up. The event is organized by the Prague Archdiocese and is traditionally linked to charity with children dressed as the three kings collecting money for the needy. This year they collected a record amount of 77 million crowns.
The largest producer of sparkling wines in the Czech Republic Bohemia Sekt, is planning to expand its vineyards. A company spokesman said Bohemia Sekt was ready to invest 100 million crowns into the expansion with the idea of spreading out from the present 400 hectares to at least 600 by the year 2020. Bohemia Sekt already ranks among the biggest vineyard owners in the country and has been fast expanding. In 2011 it owned just 240 hectares. In 2013 it sold 24 million bottles of wine.
A baby palm cockatoo –also known as the Goliath Cockatoo – born in Prague Zoo in October is reported to have died. The zoo’s spokesman said the cause of death was as yet unclear. The scruffy-looking chick, which was the first of its kind born in Europe since 2010, had become a hit on social networks and the zoo had plans to put its picture on PR gifts such as coffee mugs and T-shirts. Its death is said to be a huge disappointment.
Prague may be part of a European-wide arms-smuggling network operated by Palestinians, former chief-of-staff General Jiri Sedivy said in an interview for the Czech internet site Aktualne.cz. As many as 70 automatic rifles were found at the Prague residence of the late Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, according to unconfirmed reports carried by the CTK news agency. The general said he feared that the discovery in Prague could be the tip of the iceberg and suggested that Palestinian embassies in other European capitals could contain similar storages of illegal weapons.
The Czech foreign ministry has expressed grave concerned over the discovery. It said diplomats' weapons were subject to local laws on arms which require registration and licensing and none of those found were registered in the Czech Republic. For the embassy to store illegal weapons would be in breach of the Vienna Convention that governs the activities of diplomats and embassies and the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it would demand an explanation. It has also expressed understanding for a request from the Suchdol district which has asked the authorities to move the Palestinian embassy outside its premises since it presents a security threat to the public.
The body of the late Palestinian ambassador to Prague, Jamal al-Jamal will be repatriated on Monday. The ambassador’s daughter Rana, who claims her father was the victim of a terrorist attack, said the day of the funeral had already been set but refused to disclose any details. Meanwhile, the police have not yet released information regarding what kind of explosive caused the blast that killed the ambassador in his Prague residence.