Czechs go to the polls on Friday afternoon in the first round voting for a new president. Nine candidates are in the running, including current president Miloš Zeman, who is seeking another five year term.
If no single candidate wins a majority of votes in polling Friday and Saturday, a second round will be held between the two top scoring candidates in two weeks’ time.
Eight candidates, minus Zeman, took part in a final debate at Czech Radio’s Prague centre on Friday before polls opened. Zeman has refused to take part in any debates with other candidates.
Some Czechs abroad have already been voting in the presidential polls.
In the United States, Czechs could vote from Thursday 8 pm Central European time. Voting is possible in person in New York, Chicago, Washington, and Los Angeles. Interest in the vote is said to be higher than in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament.
The Czech consul in Washington said around 1,000 Czechs were registered to vote with participation at around 70 percent. Many can also cast correspondence votes.
US citizen Kevin Dahlgren, convicted of four murders in the Czech Republic, committed suicide in a Czech prison on Thursday night, the CTK news agency reported citing three reliable sources.
Dahlgren was given a life sentence in May 2013 for killing four members of the family he was living with in the country’s second city, Brno.
The 25-year-old was currently serving his sentence in the Valdice top security prison. His lawyers had requested he serve his sentence outside prison but under surveillance at the end of last year.
Social Democrats from the Ostrava region have nominated the former head of the military intelligence service, Miroslav Krejčík, and former South Bohemia governor, Jiří Zimola, as their candidates to become party chairman.
Party members are set to vote for a new leadership at an extraordinary meeting in February.
The leadership is up for grabs following the Social Democrats’ disastrous results in October’s parliamentary elections. Support slumped to a third of its previous level with only 15 lawmakers elected.
The Czech Republic is looking to open fresh talks with Australian-based metals company, European Metals Holdings (EMH) over its plans to extract lithium in the country. Minister of Industry and Trade Tomáš Hüner has said that a meeting with company bosses should take place within two weeks at the latest.
A memorandum over lithium mining and processing signed by the previous government will not be cancelled for the moment, the minister added.
The question of lithium mining and the memorandum became one of the main points of conflict in October’s elections to the lower house of parliament with the ANO party of current prime minister, Andrej Babiš, accusing the Social Democrats of selling out the country’s interests.
The Czech Republic is estimated to have some of the biggest lithium reserves in Europe.
The Czech Trade Inspectorate say it has found continued malpractice in the field of funeral services offered in the country. It said that around half of the 115 checks on services offered by companies between the start of September and end of November last year found faults.
Often these concerned the charges described and made on customers and the failure to confirm and outline the orders received.
The office said the sector had been a problem over the previous four years as well. Because of the failure to improve, the office said it will step up checks on funeral services through 2018.
In tennis, Czech player Andrea Sestina Hlaváčková and Taiwan’s Latisha Chan failed to win in the women’s doubles finals at the Sydney International tournament in Australia.
They lost 3:6, 1:6 against the pairing of Canada’s Gabriela Dobrowski and China’s Yifan Xu. The winners were seeded third in the tournament.
Czech driver Martin Kolomý and his Tatra truck came in second place in the 6th round of the Dakar Rally. That leaves him just 43 seconds behind the leaders, Federico Villagra and fellow Czech Martin Macík.
The two leaders are separated by just one second after 425 kilometres of competition with the race now entering Bolivia.
The weather on Saturday will be cloudy with snow showers possible in the South-East of the country. Daytime temperatures will range between zero and 3 degrees Celsius.