The northern city of Usti nad Labem remains on high alert after the River Elbe burst its banks on Sunday. Local officials say some areas of the city have flooded, although the river is rising more slowly and should peak on Monday. Elsewhere in the country, water levels on rivers - including the River Vltava in Prague, continue to fall. There was minor flooding in towns and villages across the country over the last few days, caused by heavy rain and melting snow. The worst floods in five hundred years devastated large areas of the Czech Republic in August, leaving more than a dozen people dead and causing some three billion dollars of damage.
Tram drivers in Prague have called off a threatened half-day strike planned for Monday morning. A spokesman for the tram drivers' union said negotiations on Sunday with the Prague Transport Authority and the mayor of Prague had averted strike action. Tram drivers are angry at being paid less than the city's bus drivers, who earn around 10 crowns, or 30 U.S. cents more per hour.
The discovery of extra revenue and lower costs at the year's end has allowed the government to unexpectedly cut its 2002 budget deficit. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said year-end figures revealed a 2002 deficit totalling 45.7 billion crowns, or 1.5 billion dollars, far below the 62 billion crown deficit approved by parliament. The announcement came in the face of increased pressure from the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, which have criticised the government for failing to spend within its means. Last month parliament passed a 2003 budget with a record-high deficit of 111 billion crowns.
A new opinion poll released on Saturday claimed that Vaclav Klaus, former prime minister and leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, would emerge as the clear winner if a popular vote were held to elect a new president. The poll, conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency, said Mr Klaus would come first with 34 percent, far ahead of his rivals. The two houses of parliament meet in a joint session on January 15th in a bid to choose a successor to President Vaclav Havel. However observers say the vote could fail to produce a winner, and there is a growing consensus among politicians that the parliamentary election should be replaced by a popular vote.
A newspaper has said Mr Klaus is among the politicians invited to a farewell party being held by President Havel on Thursday. The party, to be held at the Lany presidential chateau outside Prague, will be attended by politicians, senior officials and military commanders. Also among the guests will be another former prime minister, Milos Zeman. Both he and Mr Klaus are regarded as longstanding rivals of Mr Havel, and have often criticised him in public.
Two Czech mountaineers died on Friday after being hit by an avalanche in the Tatra mountain range in central Slovakia. The bodies of the two men, aged 54 and 28, were discovered on Saturday after rescue workers were alerted by the third member of the group.
After a clear and cold night, Monday will start off sunny and bright, with cloud arriving from the west. Daytime temperatures will range between minus 4 and minus 8 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of minus 14 degrees.
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