published: 08.03.2013, 00:23 | updated: 08.03.2013 06:11:36
Prague - Vaclav Klaus, 71, a man who distinctly influenced Czech politics in the past two decades, is no longer Czech president.
The ringing of St Vitus´s bells marked the end of his second mandate, the presidential flag at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, was lowered and the Castle Guard Band played the national anthem.
Klaus´s successor, former Social Democrat prime minister Milos Zeman, 68, winner of the first direct presidential election, will take his oath this morning.
Prague Castle was symbolically closed with the end of Klaus´s mandate. Its gates will reopen on Zeman´s arrival for the inauguration.
Some 140 Castle Guard soldiers attended the ceremonial lowering of the presidential flag.
The ceremony was followed by several dozen people from the square outside the Castle compound.
Some 30 journalists were inside the complex and also people from the Presidential Office were present.
Klaus´s predecessor, Vaclav Havel, came to a restaurant close to Prague Castle to watch the presidential flag being lowered at the end of his second mandate in 2003.
He was accompanied by his wife Dagmar and friends from the theatre environment.
Klaus was not at Prague Castle at midnight according to CTK's information.
Klaus was present in top political posts practically throughout more than 22 of the post-communist development in the country.
He, Havel and Zeman were a threesome that dominated Czech politics mainly in the second half of the 1990s. Later, too, Klaus stood at the head of the people who had the biggest influence on the country´s development.
Klaus was finance minister, prime minister for more than five years, Chamber of Deputies chairman for four years and now he completed his ten-year period as president.
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