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PM vows to step down if his party executive fails to confirm its support

Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said he will resign from his post if he fails to gain a vote of confidence from the Social Democrats at their party executive committee meeting next weekend. Following coalition party negotiations on Monday Mr Spidla told journalists he felt he'd be unable to lead the government if he didn't get an affirmation of support from his own party, and he added that the future of the current coalition would definitely be decided by the end of the week. According to constitutional procedure, the prime minister's resignation would signal the end of the current coalition, which counts the senior Social Democrats, and two junior right-of-centre parties, the Christian Democratic party and the Freedom Union.

The government enjoys only the slimmest of majorities in Parliament.

The weekend meeting of the Social Democrat's executive committee was to weigh replacing Mr Spidla as chairman but leave Mr Spidla at the head of the government. As Mr Spidla has now made clear, he finds that option unacceptable.

Junior parties: Social Democrats should settle crisis on its own

In related news it is unclear whether Mr Spidla will call for a confidence vote on the government in an attempt to steer it out of the current crisis stemming from the government's poor showing in the recent European Parliament elections. The prime minister has been weighing the confidence vote as an option to reconfirm the government's mandate, though this is an option not entirely supported by the coalition's junior parties. They say, however, they will respect Mr Spidla's decision. It is not certain at this time whether Mr Spidla can count on all 101 coalition MPs' votes in the 200 member Chamber of Deputies.

Proposed budget deficit for 2005 to stand at around 90 billion crowns

Coalition party representatives meeting in four hours of talks on Monday have agreed on a proposed state budget deficit of some 90 billion crowns for 2005. That number does not include a loss of 19 billion crowns covered by the CKA, the state bail-out agency. Compared to this year's projected deficit, the 2005 budget gap, in real terms, amounts to about 6 billion crowns less.

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said that the coalition had decided on the outline for next year's state budget, following reform guidelines put forward by Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Gas explosion in apartment building leaves two injured

A gas explosion in an apartment building in the Czech Republic's second-largest city, Brno, has left two people injured and two missing - including a four-year-old girl. The explosion took place shortly after 1 pm on Monday, with dozens of fire fighters arriving on the scene. An Interior Ministry helicopter carrying special equipment to help in the search for those who may have been buried in the rubble was also sent. There was danger that the building, still in flames, might collapse.

Navratilova through Wimbledon first round

Czech-born tennis legend Martina Navratilova has won her opening singles match in the first stage of this year's Wimbledon tournament. Earlier in the day the 47-year old Navratilova, a naturalised American, eliminated Catalina Castanova of Columbia 6:0, 6:1.

The win was an impressive one for Navratilova: although she is the holder of nine Wimbledon singles titles, she last appeared in the singles tournament ten years ago.


Tuesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius.