Prime Minister Stanislav Gross says he will urge the President to accept the resignations of seven of his cabinet ministers as quickly as possible, and aims to present him with a list of suitable candidates for these posts. The embattled Prime Minister said in a televised debate on Sunday that he had no intention of resigning from his post unless it was clear that there was a new, pro-European government ready to take over. Mr. Gross said he would do everything in his power to prevent early elections. There is speculation that the Prime Minister is eager to part with ministers whom he sees as having been disloyal to the government and thus prevent the possibility of an overwhelming number of ministers enforcing the Cabinet's resignation at its next session on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister said his ruling Social Democratic Party was ready to go back to the negotiating table to try to reach agreement on the formation of a new pro-European government, but that it would accept no ultimatums from the smaller parties. Mr. Gross said that after the failure of the preceding round of talks, the Social Democrat leadership might decide to send a different team of negotiators to the coalition talks. He did not specify who would represent the party.
A fragile coalition deal on a new government collapsed only hours after being clinched last Thursday, when it was rejected by the Social Democratic Party leadership. Opponents to the agreement said the party's negotiators had overstepped their mandate and been overly generous in concessions made to the two smaller coalition parties.
The parties in question -the Christian Democrats and Freedom Union - have said they are prepared to go back to the negotiating table on condition that the talks are based on the fundamental points agreed on last week.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk, who will be in the conclave which will elect a new pontiff, has called on Czech believers to pray for the right decision. Cardinal Vlk praised the role of Pope John Paul II, describing him as possibly the best pontiff in the history of the Catholic Church. The 115 Roman Catholic cardinals eligible to vote have gone into sequestered lodgings and will dine together on Sunday night, before entering their momentous conclave in the Sistine Chapel on Monday afternoon. The 85 year old Czech Cardinal Tomas Spidlik is too old to vote but he was invited to deliver a "meditation" to the cardinal electors.
Monday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.
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