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Havel set for new term

President Vaclav Havel accepted the backing by representatives of four parties for a second five-year term. The 61-year-old president's current term is ending as the Czech Republic faces a period of political instability unprecedented in its eight-year transition from communism.

The government of Vaclav Klaus collapsed a week and a half ago in a financial scandal. Mr Havel has given the Christian Democrat Josef Lux the task of trying to put together a new government. On Tuesday, the president subjected the outgoing government to searing criticism, saying it denied citizens a real voice and created the impression that it pays to lie and steal. Neither Mr Havel's critique of the Klaus government nor his tenuous health after undergoing surgery for lung cancer a year ago seemed likely to seriously hurt his chances of re-election. Parliament will decide 20 January whether to give him a second, and final, term. - AP, Prague