Social Democrat Prime Minister Vldimir Spidla has asked former education minister and university Professor Jan Sokol to become his party's candidate for the presidential office. Sokol has not rejected the offer and is waiting for the reaction of other political parties. According to the Czech public service television, a junior member in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats have expressed support to Mr. Sokol and the opposition Communist party did not rule out their support either. The right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats have already nominated their former leader Vaclav Klaus as their official candidate. On Friday, the speaker of the Lower House set February 28th as the official date for a third round of Czech presidential elections to try and elect a successor to former president Vaclav Havel, whose term in office ended last Sunday.
The German federal government said it would maintain controls on its eastern borders even after the Czech Republic and Poland join the EU in May next year. Germany believes it may be necessary to keep passport controls on the border for up to ten years after the enlargement. Their abolition is conditional on the ability of the new member states to meet the criteria stipulated by the Schengen Treaty on the security of the European Union's external borders.
The Czech State Health Institute has warned that some parts of the Czech Republic have been hit by a flu epidemic. The Institute said the number of influenza cases in Moravia exceeded 3000 per 100,000 inhabitants. An epidemic starts at 2000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In Bohemia, the level is lower but experts expect further spread of the disease in the next two weeks.
Representatives of capital cities of the Visegrad Group countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - have met in Prague for a three-day discussion on corruption and conflict of interests. The meeting called "Regional Roundtable on Corruption-free Town Halls in the Visegrad Region" is being organised by Transparency International. The main objective of the meeting is to compare the experiences and problems of individual cities in the region, the solutions they have applied, and formulate a specific plan for future anti-corruption policy in each city.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a partially cloudy day with occasional snow showers. The highest daytime temperatures should range from -4 degrees Celsius to zero.
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