US radar becomes price for unseating Czech President Vaclav Klaus

Other News Materials 12 February 2008 17:52 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The kingmakers of the Czech presidential election, the Communists, are seeking support for their oppositiion to a US missile shield base on Czech soil in return for helping opponents of incumbent Vaclav Klaus unseat him, the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily reported Tuesday.

The Communists said that they would support Klaus' challenger, Czech-US economist Jan Svejnar, if his other backers strike down the bilateral treaties on hosting of the US missile-shield radar in the Czech Republic.

The Czech government hopes to put the yet-to-be-finalized agreements before lawmakers after the NATO summit to be held in Bucharest in April.

"We are collecting votes so the treaty is not approved by parliament in the spring and the whole issue remains open," Communist Deputy Chairman Jiri Dolejs told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

While the opposition Social Democrats would join the Communists in such an effort, for the junior ruling Greens, who brought Svejnar to the fore, it is too high a price.

"It is impossible," Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, a missile-shield supporter nominated to his post by the Greens, told dpa. "I think that nobody would accept such a deal."

Meanwhile, the Communists are to decide by Tuesday midnight whether they will nominate a third candidate for the second presidential vote scheduled for Friday.

They are mulling a nomination of conservative Czech Member of European Parliament Jana Bobosikova, the only among five names presented by the Communists who would agree to run against Klaus and Svejnar.

Such move would aid the incumbent as it would split his opponents. "It would elevate (Klaus') chances but it is not automatic," Dolejs said.

Lawmakers have failed to elect a new president, due to hold office for next five years, including country's presidency of European Union in early 2009, in the three ballots of the first presidential vote on February 8 and 9.

The highly-charged and protracted election process was filled with vulgar attacks, bitter scrambling over voting procedure, obstructive breaks and accusations of putting pressure on electors.

The latter has continued Tuesday as two independent senators and backers of the incumbent, Jana Jurencakova and Liana Janackova, received bullets in their Senate mail, CTK news agency reported.