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Czech Republic: Tosovsky Sworn In as New Czech Prime Minister

PRAGUE, Jan. 2 (RFE/RL) - Czech President Vaclav Havel has sworn in a new government headed by former Central Bank chief Josef Tosovsky, more than a month after the resignation of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus over a party finance scandal.

In a formal ceremony at Prague Castle on Friday, Havel handed each of Tosovsky's ministers their portfolios. The ministers come from all three of the former ruling coalition parties and include several non-partisan figures. Tosovsky, who is not affiliated with any party, said his government should have a limited mandate.

New elections are not scheduled until the year 2000, but are widely expected to be held later this year. Havel has called a meeting with leading Czech politicians for later this month to agree a date.

News agencies report that the head of the opposition Social Democrats, Milos Zeman, has indicated he might support the new cabinet in exchange for guarantees of early elections in June. The latest polls show the Social Democrats ahead of other major parties. If they won early elections, it would be the first opposition party victory in the Czech Republic since the 1989 revolution.

After Friday's ceremony, Tosovsky said the new goverment's priorities will be to assure the Czech Republic is ready for membership in NATO and the European Union (EU), fighting crime and corruption, restoration of economic growth, and what Tosovsky called a transparent decision-making process.

The first Cabinet meeting was scheduled for Monday.