The leader of the coalition Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek said on Tuesday that the scandal over Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's private finances was threatening the government's operability and has developed into a serious political crisis. Mr Kalousek, however refused to say what the Prime Minister should do under the circumstances. The Christian Democrats plan to initiate a meeting of all heads of parliamentary parties, with the exception of the Communists, to discuss the matter.
Responding to the news at the start of his official visit to France, Mr. Gross said he was not against a meeting of party leaders at which he would once again present his stand on the matter. He said he was unpleasantly surprised by the fact that the Christian Democrats had waited for him to leave the country before presenting their initiative and emphasized that they were free to walk out of the governing coalition if that was their choice.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has suggested that early elections are the only possible solution to the crisis. He said that all parliamentary party leaders, with the exception of the Communists, should meet to debate this possibility. The regular term of the current coalition government, based on the slimmest possible majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat lower house, expires in mid-2006.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned that the Czech Republic may not be able to ratify the EU Constitution within the EU-set date, if the Constitutional Court does not launch a serious debate on the compatibility of the Czech and EU constitutions, according to the president's spokesman Petr Hajek. The President recently wrote a private letter to the head of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetsky asking him for his views on the subject of compatibility of the two constitutions and whether the Czech Constitution would have to be amended before the EU Constitution could be ratified. The president's spokesman said that Mr. Rychetsky's written answer had disappointed the president.
The latest Eurobarometer poll suggests that support for the EU Constitution among the public has grown in the past year with two thirds of Czechs now supporting it.
Deputy Interior Minister Jiri Vacek, the government's leading drugs expert, has announced his decision to resign in the wake of a scandal over his education. Vacek allegedly failed to complete his secondary school studies yet in recent years he claimed to have graduated from university and used the title "engineer". Vacek said he'd written a letter of resignation and it would be on his superior's desk on Wednesday morning. Vacek, the chief author of the of the Christian Democrats' uncompromising drugs policy, emigrated to Germany in 1968 and spent twenty years there. Although he claimed to have completed his studies in Germany, he failed to produce any documents that would prove this.
Professor Sadai Nazarov, who has political asylum in the Czech Republic, has been released from an Azeri jail but his return to the Czech Republic may be complicated, according to his son Elshan. He has been charged with six serious crimes which the Azeri penal code punishes with life imprisonment. Nazarov was arrested in January on a visit to his homeland. In the early 90s prof. Sadai Nazarov served as aide to the former Azeri prime minister Sarat Huseynov and fled to the Czech Republic in the mid 1990's after the regime of president Heydar Aliyev accused Huseynov of planning a coup. The Czech Foreign Ministry has called for "a humanitarian approach and a speedy resolution to the case", stressing that Nazarov is under the Czech Republic's protection.
Wednesday is expected to be overcast with snow showers and day temperatures between minus four degrees Celsius and zero.
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