News Government to discuss bid to host UN housing conference in 2016
The Czech government will next week discuss whether the country should bid to host a United Nations Habitat III conference on housing and sustainable development planned for 2016. The Czech Ministry of Regional Development has put forward a proposal to host the conference, which is held once every two decades. Around 20,000 delegates are expected to attend the conference, including the secretary general of the UN. Prague’s Congress Centrum would be the main venue in any Czech bid. A decision on what city will host the event will be made by the end of this year.
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Autopsies on the victims of the shooting in Uhersky Brod have revealed that they died almost immediately and could not have been saved even with prompt medical care, according to State Attorney Roma Kafka, who has been assigned to the case. The state attorney rejected speculation that the victims had lain there injured for tens of minutes and that had the police stormed the pub sooner some of them could have been saved. He said the attacker had aimed for lethal areas, mostly the head and neck, and inflicted fatal injuries.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has once again defended the police operation in the town of Uherský Brod where a deranged man shot eight people dead in a pub on Tuesday. The interior minister told commercial TV Prima that on the grounds of the information he had the police could not be faulted in its actions. He said, however, that should it emerge from the ongoing investigation that the police had failed in its duty then corrective measures would be taken. Some witnesses have criticized the police over their handling of the incident, saying that had they acted faster and more professionally they could have saved lives. Chovanec argued that when the police negotiated with the attacker they thought he was holding hostages and had no idea that the eight remaining people in the pub were already dead.
During the second day of the conference the newly-elected party leadership also heard the first sharp criticism from inside party ranks. Lower house deputy Ivan Pilný said that some of the newly-elected party leaders were using the party as an “elevator to power” and claimed that the result of the vote had been pre-arranged. He was particularly critical of newly-elected party deputy Radmila Kleslová, saying she had a shady past. However he welcomed the election of Environment Minister Richard Brabec and Defence Minister Martin Stropnický deputy leaders, saying they improved the image of the new leadership.
At its weekend election conference the ANO party of the ruling coalition
unanimously re-elected Finance Minister Andrej Babiš its leader and
approved an amendment to the party’s statutes, without debate. The
party’s new statutes confirm the strong position of the party leader and
modify the rights of the party leadership to give regional heads a greater
say in decision-making. The conference also discussed the party’s policy
programme and the measure to which it had managed to implement its
priorities within the ruling coalition.
Party leader, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, indicated in his opening speech to the conference that the process of fulfilling the party’s policy programme was being hampered by the party’s coalition partners, particularly the Social Democrats, whom he criticized for overly generous hand-outs of public funds which they wanted to compensate for by raising taxes. Some political commentators read this as a signal of the party’s shift to the right and a move to broaden its scope of supporters.
Justice Minister Helena Válková, a minister for the ANO party, has stepped down as announced on March 1st. Ms. Válková tendered her resignation several weeks ago after coming under pressure to quit from her own party which criticised her for allegedly being behind on fulfilling the government’s legislative plan and failings in her personnel policy. She is to be replaced by her first deputy, Robert Pelikán who will be appointed to the post on March 15. The party has come under fire for the manner in which the change-of-guard was handled.
A stray dog stopped the C line of the Prague metro for over half an hour on Saturday night. Trains were brought to a standstill after dispatchers were alerted to the fact that a stray dog had been sighted in the tunnel near Muzeum station. Police and firefighter units combed the tracks between Pražské Povstani and Florence and eventually caught up with the dog at I.P. Pavlova. He was captured and handed over to an animal control team.
Real estate agencies are reported to be buying up property in the towns of Horní Jiřetín and Černice which may have to give way to mining if mining limits on brown coal imposed in the early 1990s are relaxed. According to Czech Television two real estate agencies –Double B and Double Pro – have invested tens of millions of crowns into the speculative purchases. City planning authorities in the two towns have confirmed that the said real estate agencies had acquired close to a third of the houses in Horní Jiřetín and Černice in view of making huge profit if the towns are slated for demolition. A decision on whether to relax the limits is expected in the spring.
A number of traffic restrictions are being affected along Prague’s Nusle Bridge which is currently undergoing a major phased-out reconstruction. Over the weekend one lane has been closed to traffic in both directions. Nusle Bridge is a concrete viaduct in Prague that spans the Nusle valley. The bridge is one of the backbones of Prague’s transportation network. Its construction began in 1965 and the bridge was completed in 1973, a year before the first metro line was opened in Prague.
Multi-millionaire entrepreneur and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš was
unanimously re-elected leader of the ANO party in Prague on Saturday. Mr.
Babiš, who ran for the post unchallenged, joked that the victory was
“most unexpected”, saying that the single missing vote in his favour
was his own. Three candidates for the post of first deputy chair withdrew
their candidacy at the eleventh hour to ease the way for Mr. Babiš’
favourite - the head of ANO’s deputies’ group in the lower house
Jaroslav Faltýnek. He also ran unchallenged and was elected by 153 out of
In an opening address to the conference, Mr. Babiš took a swipe at his own coalition partners saying the Social Democrats had a “controversial past” and criticizing the party for irresponsible and overly generous spending of public funds. He spoke out in favour of a majority election system, saying that what the country primarily needed was an action-capable administration which would tackle the problems at hand. He hinted that this was difficult due to the need to find consensus within the coalition and said he expected growing friction over policy issues ahead of next year’s regional elections.
ANO’s coalition partners have expressed surprise and anger at the party leader’s rhetoric. The Social Democrat speaker of the lower house, Jan Hamáček, said that he hoped the coalition could survive Mr. Babiš’ aggressive rhetoric and expressed serious reservations with regard to Mr. Babiš’ claim that the Social Democrats had “a controversial past”. It would be good if Mr. Babiš could be as proud of his past as we are of ours, Jan Hamáček told the ctk news agency. Meanwhile Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek said it was obvious that Mr. Babiš was tired of having to consider his coalition partners and clearly wanted to rule alone.