Social Democrat MPs present in the Lower House on Wednesday voted unanimously to support the presidential candidacy of university professor Jan Sokol in an upcoming third round of presidential elections. The situation brings the Czech Republic closer to finally electing a successor to Vaclav Havel, after two failed attempts in January. Vaclav Havel stepped down at the beginning of February after 13 years in office. Early on Mr Sokol, who is 66, stipulated he would run only if he gained the full support of all three parties in the governing coalition, the only possibility of putting up a strong challenge to the right-of-centre Civic Democrat candidate Vaclav Klaus. So far both the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats have reacted positively to Wednesday's developments, so it seems likely Mr Sokol will run against Mr Klaus on February 28th.
A Nigerian diplomat was shot and killed at the Nigerian embassy in Prague on Wednesday morning. A lone gunman opened fire inside the embassy, shooting the 50-year-old consul, Michael Lekary Wayid, twice in the chest - he died at the scene. A receptionist was also shot, and was later hospitalised. The suspect taken into custody in connection with the shootings is a 72-year-old Czech man. After the incident the suspect reportedly collapsed, and was taken to a military hospital, where he is under surveillance. Police are investigating possible motives for the murder. One theory suggested early on was that the killing may have been connected to a so-called 'Nigerian letter' deal - the kind of fraudulent proposals common on the internet that promise attractive business returns for large investments, that ultimately never materialise.
A new opinion poll just released has shown a change in the public's preferences among the Czech political parties: the new CVVM poll suggests that if general elections were held tomorrow the right-of-centre Civic Democrats would win by a slim margin at 25 percent. It was the rival Social Democrats who took the most votes in elections last June. According to the new poll now they would receive ten percent less, at 22.5 percent of the vote. Finally, the poll suggests another party, the Freedom Union, which is a junior partner in the country's governing coalition, would not make it into parliament. According to the survey the Freedom Union would garner just 1.5 percent, far below the five percent required.
Czech police are planning to charge former Prague mayor and head of the European Democrats Jan Kasl with slander in connection with remarks Mr Kasl made about a former head of the Prague's emergency services Pavel Getlik in 2001. According to police, Mr Kasl slandered the former emergency services head when he criticised him for bad management and suggested he was involved in corruption. Mr Kasl, informed about the results of the police investigation, did not deny making the statements, but said he had confused Getlik with a previous emergency services head currently being investigated by police for fraud. If found guilty of slander Mr Kasl could face up to two years in prison.
Three poachers caught illegally hunting deer in the north Bohemian region of Liberec, could face up to five years in prison if found guilty of their crime. The men allegedly used dogs to corner a deer which they bludgeoned to death using a hammer. A fourth poacher was also caught by police in the Liberec region in recent days; local citizens were active in both sets of arrests calling the police both times.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with sunny periods and daytime temperatures hovering at around 0 degrees Celsius.
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