Pretender to Havel 'throne' fails

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The Independent Online
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Prague (Reuter) - Czechoslovakia's parliament yesterday rejected a bid by Jiri Kotas, the leader of the small Conservative Party Free Bloc, to become the new head of state. The deputies held the election during a break in their haggling over an agenda for debating laws on the split-up of the country.

Mr Kotas, a banker who lived in Canada in the 1980s and whose party is not represented in parliament, failed to win the necessary votes in the fifth attempt to elect a new president since deputies thwarted Vaclav Havel's bid for re-election in July. Only 123 deputies of the 300-member assembly voted, and only 40 for Mr Kotas.