A second attempt to find a successor to President Vaclav Havel has ended in failure. A third round of voting at Prague Castle by both houses of the Czech parliament early on Friday evening saw neither the Civic Democrats' Vaclav Klaus nor Jaroslava Moserova, who was nominated by the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, receive the necessary majority of all legislators present. Mr Klaus won the most support in the third round - as he did in the first presidential election on January 15 - but was still 14 votes short. Earlier a third candidate, former Social Democrat prime minister Milos Zeman, was knocked out in the first round.
A third presidential election may now be held, though no date has been set as yet and some parties would prefer to amend the constitution to allow for a direct vote, which would mean a period without a head of state. Current president Vaclav Havel steps down on February 2, after 13 years in office.
The failure of Milos Zeman to advance from the first round is evidence of divisions within the largest party in the governing coalition, the Social Democrats. A section of the party around current leader Vladimir Spidla evidently did not vote for Mr Zeman in the first round, something analysts have described as revenge for the fact that Mr Zeman's supporters did not vote for the party's candidate Jaroslav Bures in the first election last week. Mr Zeman reportedly left Prague Castle without talking to journalists, soon after unofficial results showed that he had been eliminated.
The University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice issued a statement on Friday condemning a racist attack on two of its students from Africa. Police said the two African students had been verbally abused, kicked and beaten by three skinheads in Ceske Budejovice last Friday night. The university said it would work to defend its black students and prevent any such incidents in the future.
Two refugees from Armenia and one from Ukraine who are being held at a detention centre at Kostelec nad Orlici, east Bohemia, have launched a hunger strike in protest against conditions at the centre. The men also said on Friday that their asylum applications were being processed too slowly. The director of the centre defended the institution, saying it was one of the most modern in the country and comparable to those found in the European Union.
Police said on Friday that the body of a hunter had been found near Cheb in west Bohemia on Wednesday with shotgun wounds to the head. A post mortem is to be held in an effort to determine whether the man was killed or committed suicide.
Saturday is expected to be bright in places, with a maximum daytime temperature of 3 degrees Celsius.
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