The three parties in the governing coalition remain divided over whether the Czech parliament should attempt to elect a new Czech president for a third time or whether the president should be elected in a popular vote. While representatives of the Freedom Union pushed for a direct vote at Thursday's meeting, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats are still hoping to find a common candidate who could gather enough votes in both houses of parliament. The senior coalition partner, the Social Democrats propose the vote should take place within the next thirty days.
The chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has said his party is in favour of direct presidential election but does not oppose a possible third attempt by the Czech parliament to elect a new head of state. The Civic Democrats' candidate, former party leader Vaclav Klaus, won the most support in both inconclusive votes held in January and, according to opinion polls, stands the most chance if a popular vote were to take place.
Police have charged twenty-six people with drug dealing and smuggling of mobile phones into the Vinarice prison in Central Bohemia. Of the twenty-six accused four are former or current employees of the prison, eleven are inmates and the rest are relatives of prisoners, employees of delivery services and drug dealers.
A mysterious white powder that triggered a chemical alert at the University of West Bohemia in Plzen on Wednesday has been identified as salt by military experts. Workers who opened the building on Wednesday morning found the substance sprinkled on radiators, in hallways and letterboxes. Fearing the unknown substance might be dangerous, university officials evacuated the building and called the fire brigade.
The small North Moravian town of Horni Benesov is considering awarding an honorary citizenship to the United States senator and presidential candidate John Kerry. The mayor of Horni Benesov said the town was surprised to find out that Mr Kerry's grandfather hailed from the town. According to the Boston Globe newspaper a Vienna-based genealogist discovered Mr Kerry's grandfather had left the town for the United States in 1905. Regional archivist Jiri Stibor confirmed for the CTK news agency that the senator's great-grandfather and grandfather Fritz Kohn had indeed lived and worked in Horni Benesov as brewers at the local brewery.
Friday should partly cloudy with isolated snow showers. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from minus 4 to zero degrees Celsius.
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