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Rights groups slam planned Prague visit by Uzbek leader

Thirty human rights groups Tuesday called on Czech President Milos Zeman to reconsider his plan to host his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, accused of serious rights abuses, on a state visit next week. The groups including Human Rights Watch and the Prague-based People in Need released an open letter to Zeman expressing their "surprise and deep concern" over the invitation. They called on Zeman to reconsider the invitation or to at least raise the human rights situation in the energy-rich central Asian state with Karimov during the visit.

Czech president in surprise trip to Afghanistan

The Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman made a surprise visit to Afghanistan in which he held talks with his counterpart Hamid Karzai and met a contingent of Czech soldiers, the presidency said Saturday. "The two presidents studied bilateral cooperation between the two countries as well as student exchanges," Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told public television.

Czech president raises doubts over some in next PM's cabinet

By Robert Muller PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman said on Friday he was concerned about the qualifications of some of the cabinet ministers chosen by Bohuslav Sobotka, signaling yet more wrangling before a new government can be appointed. Zeman confirmed he would appoint Social Democrat leader Sobotka as the next prime minister on January 17, after months of political stalemate, but raised questions over the team he wants to lead the country out of a record-long recession.

Czech president says will name left-winger Sobotka as PM

The Czech president said Friday he would tap left-winger Bohuslav Sobotka to be prime minister, enabling him to form a three-party coalition government to end a drawn-out political crisis. "The appointment will take place next... Friday," President Milos Zeman told reporters. The announcement comes months after a spy and bribery scandal toppled the previous centre-right cabinet and triggered an October snap election, unleashing political trouble in an EU member already struggling with financial woes.

Czech president says he will appoint new PM within days

By Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech President Milos Zeman will appoint Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka as prime minister within days, he told Reuters on Thursday, opening the way for a centre-left coalition to try to revive the economy after months of political stalemate.

Czech parties ink coalition deal paving way to cabinet

Three Czech parties on Monday signed a coalition deal that should pave the way for a new cabinet months after a bribery and spy scandal toppled the prime minister. Bohuslav Sobotka, the most likely next prime minister, announced the completion of a coalition deal 72 days after a snap election sparked by the scandal. The deal includes "both the part containing the programme and the supplement distributing government jobs," Sobotka told reporters.

Czech president to give Christmas message instead of New Year speeches

PRAGUE, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Instead of giving the traditional New Year speeches, Czech President Milos Zeman will deliver Christmas message on December 26 from the Lany presidential chateau in central Bohemia, said Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek on Thursday. Ovcacek said that Zeman hopes to follow up the habit from interwar Czechoslovakia when similar speeches were delivered by Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-1935).

Unravelling plot reveals tension at heart of Czech government

By Jan Lopatka and Christian Lowe PRAGUE (Reuters) - It had all the elements of a spy thriller: a convoy of cars with tinted windows, a Baroque castle outside the Czech capital, a clandestine meeting of senior politicians. This though was real, it happened late last month, and it was the culmination of a battle for power between the Czech President Milos Zeman and former allies who nearly ended his political career 10 years ago.

Czech left leader defeats rebels, takes control of government talks

By Robert Muller PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka took back control of talks to form a new government on Thursday, defeating a bid to oust him by party rebels unhappy over a poor election result. The Social Democrats are the largest party in the new parliament and have a chance to build a coalition with two other groups, but their low share of last weekend's vote, at 20.5 percent, emboldened Sobotka's opponents.

Czech parties brace for coalition talks after fractured vote

Czech political leaders braced Sunday for tough coalition talks after a snap election marked by fragmented results and a surprise second place for the billionaire-led populist ANO party, which narrowly lost to the main opposition Social Democrats. With seven parties having jumped the five-percent hurdle needed to secure a place in parliament in Friday and Saturday's vote, analysts warn the political horse-trading could end in stalemate.
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