Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

26-01-2003

Spidla: poor strategy to blame for failure of second presidential election

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said poor strategy was to blame for the second failed attempt to elect a successor to President Vaclav Havel on Friday. Mr Spidla, leader of the senior coalition Social Democrats, said nominating the party's former leader Milos Zeman had been a mistake. Mr Zeman was knocked out in the first round of the election, a joint session of the two houses of parliament. Mr Zeman's poor showing has highlighted deep divisions within the Social Democrats, after it emerged that many in his own party voted against him. Mr Spidla - who bitterly opposed Mr Zeman's nomination - says any consequences of the failure will be decided at the Social Democrats' national conference in March. Some party associations are calling for Mr Spidla to be replaced by a new leader.

Second election fails, parties to decide whether to hold third attempt

Friday's election - the second in 10 days - ended in failure after none of the three candidates won a sufficient majority. Former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus - nominated by the opposition Civic Democrats - once again made the strongest showing, falling just 14 votes short of becoming president. Senator Jaroslava Moserova, nominated by the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, came second.

Parties to decide when - and whether - to hold third election

Party leaders are due to meet to discuss when - and whether - to hold a third election. Some politicians want to change the constitution to allow a popular vote, something which enjoys strong public support. The country will most likely be left without a head of state when President Havel steps down on February 2.

200 attend anti-war demonstration in Prague

Several hundred people marched through the centre of Prague on Sunday to protest against a possible war on Iraq. Police said around 200 people attended the march, from the city's Wenceslas Square to the American embassy in Mala Strana. Among the demonstrators were American expatriates living in Prague and Czech anarchist groups. There was a brief confrontation when several Arab demonstrators carrying pictures of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein tried to join the march. Police say otherwise there were no incidents and the march passed off peacefully.

Bild: Afghan "terror commandos" heading for Czech Republic

Germany's mass-circulation Bild newspaper has claimed around 20 Afghan extremists are heading for a number of destinations in Europe, including the Czech Republic. Quoting unnamed German intelligence sources, the paper claimed the extremists were travelling to Europe on false Pakistani passports. Describing them as "terror commandos" loyal to Osama bin Laden, Bild said they were travelling via Bahrain to Germany, Britain, France and the Czech Republic. A German intelligence official confirmed to the DPA news agency that German border police had been warned to be on the lookout for members of the group. However he said there was no "concrete evidence" of any impending terrorist activity.

Weather forecast

Monday will be cloudy, with drizzle or freezing rain in places and snow in mountain areas. Temperatures in the daytime will range between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.

26-01-2003