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Czech election risks delay

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Prague - The Czech Republic's top court said Wednesday it could delay the country's first direct presidential election in the wake of a complaint filed by a rejected candidate.

“The constitutional court will meet Friday and consider all the possibilities,” constitutional court spokesman Vlastimil Goettinger told AFP, adding a decision was unlikely before Monday.

“No outcome can be ruled out. The legal situation is quite complicated,” he said.

A lawsuit launched by would-be candidate Tomio Okamura, 40, a senator whose name was among a total of three struck from the list of candidates over irregularities, could see the historic January 11-12 vote pushed back. A second round is planned two weeks later.

An eccentric artist with a tattooed face, an aristocrat and a master statistician are among eight candidates vying to replace euro-sceptic President Vaclav Klaus who has served two terms

Klaus's second five-year mandate expires on March 7, 2013. The new president will be the third since the country became independent in 1993, when the former Czechoslovakia split in two.

Its first leader was the widely respected anti-communist playwright-turned-president Vaclav Havel, who held office from 1993-2003. He died on December 18, 2011.

Jan Fischer, a centre-right politician who served as both prime minister and the republic's chief statistician and fellow former prime minister Milos Zeman, a left-winger, are tipped as the favourites in the upcoming ballot.

Candidates required signatures from 10 senators, 20 lower-house lawmakers or 50,000 citizens to enter the race. - Sapa-AFP


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