Fear over security on Czech railways is growing after Friday saw the latest in a series of bomb threats that have plagued the country in recent days. An anonymous early-morning telephone call forced the closure of the railroad between the towns of Rakovnik and Becov nad Teplou in west Bohemia, causing the rail company Cesky Drahy to turn away commuters and provide replacement transport in the form of buses. Friday's threat, ultimately proven false, follows a growing number of threatening calls warning of explosives planted on railway tracks, highway bridges, river dams, as well as airport terminals in the Czech Republic. Earlier this week authorities discovered a pipe bomb placed on a railroad bridge in the eastern city of Olomouc. Experts removed the bomb safely, but security fears persist at a time when Czechs are already nervous about possible terrorist attacks. The government has warned citizens to be on alert for terrorist repercussions that could be sparked by the country's backing of the US in a possible war against Iraq.
Social Democrat Deputy Milan Urban has been proposed by the prime minister to replace outgoing Jiri Rusnok as the country's new Trade and Industry minister. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla sacked Mr Rusnok on Thursday, just two days after the coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament. Mr Rusnok's dismissal must now be approved by the country's president Vaclav Klaus. Meanwhile, a government spokeswoman said on Friday that Mr Rusnok's removal had nothing to do with a rebellion by some Social Democrat deputies in recent presidential elections, which allowed Mr Klaus to win the post. Other observers, however, point out Mr Rusnok was a key ally of Mr Spidla's predecessor, Milos Zeman. They say by sacking Mr Rusnok the prime minister has sent a clear message to opponents within his own Social Democrat party. Providing the president approves Jiri Rusnok's dismissal, Milan Urban will take his new post in government as of next week.
President Vaclav Klaus has condemned the unruly post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, as well as violence committed in former Czechoslovakia during the war. Mr Klaus said that both Germany and the Czech Republic needed to be able to admit that what had happened could no longer be changed, adding that the acts of the period were unacceptable from today's point of view. Mr Klaus made the statements on the eve of the 64th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany on March 15th, 1939.
Constitutional court Deputy Milos Holecek will replace outgoing Zdenek Keller as the chairman of the constitutional court, and will be named by President Vaclav Klaus on Monday. Milan Holcek, who is 52, was recommended to the post by his predecessor Zdenek Keller, who resigned in February for health reasons. Mr Holecek is currently serving out a ten year mandate as a constitutional judge, a mandate which ends in July 2003. It is unclear whether he will retain the post till the end, or will be replaced by someone else.
Three candidates are said to be in the running for the post of head of the Social Democratic Party's parliamentary deputy group: Michal Hasek, Alfred Michalik, and Miloslav Vlcek. The post of deputy group head became open after former group head Milan Urban, together with six others, resigned in early March, after a number of government deputies failed to support a the government candidate in Czech presidential elections. The failure to hold together ultimately paved the way for victory by rival politician Vaclav Klaus. The new head of the Social Democratic Party's deputy club, which includes 70 MPs, will be chosen on Tuesday.
Saturday is expected to be partly cloudy with some sunny periods, and a possibility of snowfall in places. Daytime temperatures will hover at around 5 degrees Celsius.
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