The leaders of the three parties in the governing coalition have failed to agree on a joint candidate for president. As they left a meeting in Prague on Tuesday morning, the leader of the Social Democrats, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Christian Democrat chairman Cyril Svoboda and Freedom Union head Petr Mares said they would hold negotiations on the issue with the other parties in parliament during the next three weeks. Two recent attempts to elect a successor to President Vaclav Havel have ended in failure.
Five days before he steps down, President Vaclav Havel played host to Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski and Austrian President Thomas Klestil on Tuesday. The two visiting presidents and their wives had lunch at a Prague restaurant with Mr Havel and his wife Dagmar. Also on Tuesday, Mr Havel appointed Jiri Mucha a constitutional court judge, the president's last such appointment before he steps down on Sunday after 13 years in office. On Wednesday Mr Havel is due to visit the Slovak capital Bratislava, on what will be his last foreign trip as president of the Czech Republic.
Police on Tuesday requested that two senior Czech Army officers be brought to court on charges of bullying soldiers. The commander of a field hospital in Afghanistan, Jindrich Sitt and the base's chief of staff Michal Pecka are accused of meting out severe punishments on soldiers, who subsequently complained to the police about their treatment. The case is to be considered by the Pilsen state attorney.
Meanwhile, Czech anti-chemical troops sent out to reinforce the Czech military presence in Kuwait arrived on Tuesday. Over 100 soldiers have been dispatched to the Czech base, bringing the total number to over 350. The move comes in response to a United States request for Czech assistance in a possible war against Iraq.
Some 63 percent of Czechs are planning to take part in a referendum on accession to the European Union, according to a poll carried out by the STEM agency in January. The poll also suggests 47 percent of Czechs are planning to vote Yes to joining the EU, with 19 percent intending to vote against. The government is spending some 200 million crowns on an information campaign ahead of what will be the country's first ever referendum. It takes place on June 15 and 16.
After a very windy day in the Czech Republic on Tuesday, Wednesday is expected to be calmer but also colder, with temperatures of between 0 and plus 4 degrees Celsius. There will be sunny spells and snow in places.
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