Havel to discuss planned constitutional changes
President Havel is to discuss planned Constitutional amendments with deputies of the Lower House on Wednesday. The amendments which have been proposed jointly by the Civic and Social Democrats include curbing the President's powers. In his first response to the news president Havel actually threatened to resign his post if this were approved, saying it would make him a mechanical puppet.
Egon Lansky has rejected calls for him to resign in connection with a lack-luster performance in office and dubious financial transactions relating to his private bank account in Austria. The Central Bohemian regional committee of the Social Democratic Party urged the deputy premier to resign on Monday and a leading party figure , deputy speaker of Parliament Petra Buzkova has now joined the appeal, pointing out that the speculation surrounding Lansky was damaging the party's reputation. Meanwhile, the premier has said he will not sack Lansky , who holds the EU portfolio, until he has seen this year's report from the EU or received evidence from the Czech National Bank that Lansky had violated the law by the said financial transactions. The premier has disclosed his intention to review the performance of all Cabinet members in the next few weeks and has not ruled out a re-shuffle.
Wednesday's Cabinet session is to debate an amendment to the penal code which would lift all statutory limitations on communist crimes and enable perpetrators to be punished regardless of how much time has passed since the crime was committed. The proposed amendment was tabled by parliament deputies for the Freedom Union.
The Civic Democratic Alliance has slammed the government's proposed state budget for the year 2,000 as totally unrealistic. The right wing opposition party said the budget which the Cabinet unveiled on Monday was more a result of wishful thinking than economic reality. Party leader Daniel Kroupa casts doubt both on the predicted tax income and the predicted GDP growth , forecast at 1,4%. The impact of this criticism is somewhat weakened by the fact that the mentioned party is not represented in the Lower House, but a similar stand is expected from the party's close allies in the Lower House - the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats. The Civic Democratic Party has so far issued a reserved statement, saying it was still studying the proposal.
A growing number of Czechs are said to be against the opposition agreement between the Social and Civic Democrats. An opinion poll just out shows that only 27% Czechs feel the opposition deal is doing the country any good , and only 3,5% of those are positive that it is necessary under the present circumstances. Last September the opposition agreement had the support of 45% Czechs. The survey shows people to be increasingly apathetic with regard to what's happening in politics or on the other hand becoming increasingly radicalized, which accounts for the unexpected rise in support for the communist party.
Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus is on a two day state visit to the Czech Republic. His talks with President Havel and leading Czech top officials are focusing on bilateral ties and the process of European integration. Lithuania is seeking Czech support for its ambition to join NATO and the European Union.
Wednesday should be another fairly warm though overcast day with drizzle and day temps between 20 and 24 degs C. Nighttime lows between 4 and 10 degs.
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