The eve of the Czech presidential elections has seen some last minute meetings by some of the candidates: on Thursday the Social Democratic Party's nominee, Milos Zeman, met with members of the Czech Senate in order to try and drum up additional support in his bid for the presidency. Analysts so far are speculating the race is too close to call - it is even possible the elections could end in another stalemate. Three candidates in all are taking part in the race: former Social Democrat chairman Milos Zeman, Senator Jaroslava Moserova, and former prime minister Vaclav Klaus. It will be the a second attempt in two weeks to find a successor to outgoing President Vaclav Havel. Friday's voting will get underway at ten o'clock, when both houses of parliament meet in a joint-session.
The Czech Statistics Office has released new official figures concerning the foreign trade deficit for 2002, correcting a recent blunder that saw the original deficit tabulated at over 116 billion crowns. The new figure has been set at 74.5 billion. Export at regular prices lowered year on year by 1.4 percent, according to the statistics foreign trade throughout the year worsened. However, according to new figures released, the Czech economy overall is healthier than was previously thought - the third quarter of 2002 saw a rise in the GDP result from 1.5 to 2.7 percent.
Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has stated the Czech unit in Kuwait taking part in the operation 'Enduring Freedom' could receive reinforcements of 130 soldiers by the end of the week. Around 350 Czech military personnel will eventually to be stationed in the region, though Mr Tvrdik did not state an estimate Thursday indicating how long their mission might last. The Czech anti-chemical unit has already spent nearly half a year at the American base of Camp Dauha, and were originally expected to return home in March. However, the Czech government recently met a US request to lengthen the unit's operation in the area to provide assistance in case war breaks out with Iraq.
Three Czech men have been arrested in connection with an attack last Saturday on two African students in the town of Ceske Budejovice, in southern Bohemia. The trio allegedly attempted to provoke the Africans with racial slurs, before beating them using their fists and boots. The three men also attacked a Czech passer-by who tried to defend the Africans - like them he was thrown to the ground and severely beaten. The three suspects under arrest are between the ages of 24 and 31: if found guilty in the attack each could face up to three years in prison.
An unsuccessful attempt by a 32-year-old Czech man to hold up a bank in Prague on Thursday ended in the suspect's committing suicide in front of Czech police. In his attempt to make his get-away the man was surrounded by police near a local church, where he shot himself. No one else was injured in the hold-up attempt.
Friday is expected to be mostly cloudy a chance of snowfall but also sunny periods. Daytime temperatures will hover at around 0 degrees Celsius.
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