Inter-party negotiations to form a new government are scheduled to begin on Sunday evening. Leaders of the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Freedom Union will be discussing a proposal put forth by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to form a "pro-European" government with a new Social Democrat party member at the helm. Mr Gross has agreed to step down from office on the condition that the coalition members not nominate party leaders for key Cabinet posts. Under the Czech constitution, the prime minister's resignation automatically triggers the whole Cabinet's collapse. If Mr Gross quits, it would be the second cabinet collapse in the Czech Republic in less than a year.
Ahead of Sunday night's meeting, Christian Democrat deputy chairman Libor Ambrozek, who was one of five ministers to resign in recent days, said that his party would not let Mr Gross dictate who it would nominate to take up Cabinet post in a new government. He was reacting to the Prime Minister's demands that ministers who had "undermined" the government, presumably by resigning, not be allowed to resume their posts. According to the Social Democrats, the new government, which will likely be headed by the current Czech ambassador to the European Union, Jan Kohout, would be a kind of caretaker government, formed to gain confidence in an upcoming vote before the lower house of Parliament. Prime Minister Gross has said that if the coalition members do not agree to form such a government, the Social Democrats will govern alone with a minority Cabinet.
Police in the town of Sokolov, near the Czech-German border, shot at a driver who had threatened them with a weapon after ignoring demands to pull off to the side of the road. A police spokesman said that the driver, whose identity has not been released, has a lengthy criminal record. The 35-year-old Czech man, who is now in custody, crashed his vehicle into a tree after police shot out his tyres, and then took flight and was shot by policemen.
A 23-year old Czech mountain climber died on Saturday near Hohen Wand in the Lower Austrian district of Wiener Neustadt, the Austrian APA news agency reported. The climber's body was found by a hiker only on Sunday. According to initial information, the Czech mountain climber had attempted to scale the mountain on his own. He probably lost his footing on a wet and slippery trail and fell into a gorge. Rescue workers had to use a helicopter to remove the body.
In other news, police say that some 150 skinheads attended a concert on Saturday night in the village of Hostenice, near the Moravian capital of Brno. Police and monitors from the anti-discrimination group Tolerance say the event passed without incident, but anti-fascist groups say the bands have performed songs with anti-Semitic lyrics, a violation of Czech laws.
A new Miss Czech Republic was crowned on Saturday night, in a ceremony at the Grandhotel Pupp in the spa town of Karlovy Vary. She is 23-year-old Lucie Kralova from Teplice, in northern Bohemia. Miss Kralova received over 220,000 votes via SMS, the phone text messages. As Miss Czech Republic 2005, the dark-haired, green-eyed beauty will have the chance to represent the country at the next Miss World contest.
There is still more rain in the forecast over the coming days, with night time temperatures dropping to below freezing and even a chance of a little snowfall later in the week.
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