PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia -- When President Bush arrives in Prague, he will find the country far from the harmonious consensus the leaders of last November's Velvet revolution envisaged.
Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright and human rights campaigner who led Civic Forum, a ragtag band of peaceful revolutionaries, to overthrew four decades of Communist dictatorship, is now president.
More than 1,200 new journals, newspapers and magazines enjoy a free press.
Western retailers and companies have begun to enter the country, and Czechoslovaks can travel abroad freely.
Yet despite all these achievements, Czechoslovakia is beset by ethnic and political factionalism and looming economic disaster.
Factionalist demands from the country's two constituent republics, the Czech lands and Slovakia, are threatening the future of the federal state. Nationalists lead the polls in Slovakia, and extremists have even threatened to declare Slovak independence on Nov. 17, the first anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the day Bush arrives.
Civic Forum, intended as an umbrella group to oversee and protect the transition to democracy and a free market, has been taken over by monetarist finance minister Vaclav Klaus, who says he wants to convert it into an right-wing political party.
The rising price of oil, the growing world recession and the long debate over the mechanisms of economic reform have fueled fears that transforming Czechoslovakia to a market economy will bring hard times for many.
The Communist Party remains a major political force, second only to Civic Forum in the Czech lands, and many Communist-appointed managers and bureaucrats remain in office.
Even the students, whose brutal beating at the hands of police and anti-terrorist commandos last year sparked the revolution, have decided not to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution. With over 10,000 graduates unemployed now, they say, there is no reason to celebrate.
Apart from Klaus, no strong national political leaders have emerged, either, and 42 parties are set to contest local elections nationwide on Nov. 23-24.
One of the most serious political problems has been a split in Civic Forum's parliamentary group into rightist and left-center factions.
In a bid to make Civic Forum a disciplined political party, Klaus, the architect of Czechoslovakia's radical free market economic reform, has allied himself with the Civic Forum's local managers, technocrats who have replaced many top communist functionaries. In the process, he has antagonized the longtime dissidents -- Charter 77 signers, authors, and others -- who faced down the Communist water cannons, spent years in jail defending human rights, and led last November's Velvet Revolution.NEWLN: more