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Havel Urges Opposition to Vote Confidence in Klaus Government

Prague, July 23 (RFE/RL) -- Czech President Vaclav Havel called on parliament today to vote confidence in Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus' minority center-right government. The confidence vote is expected to be held Thursday.

In a speech to the recently-elected legislature, Havel praised the new cabinet and its program. If the parliamentary opposition is to have any impact, there should be a government for them to oppose, he said.

Milos Zeman, speaker of parliament and Social Democratic opposition leader, said earlier today that how Social Democrats cast their ballots in the vote will depend largely on how parliament deals with their own proposal on restitution of church property.

Parliament rejected the Social Democrats' proposal, which called for the legislative rather than the executive branch to decide on restituting church property

Klaus recently reached agreement with the Roman Catholic church to restitute some 170,000 hectares of forest in exchange for an end to most state financing of the church.