South Sudan's parliament has accused 75 top officials of corruption, with at least US$4 billion having been stolen. Last week President Salva Kiir wrote a letter to current and former government employees, asking them to return the funds. US$60 million has already been recovered. South Sudan declared independence almost a year ago, with the country suffering from massive corruption and poverty.
Cyprus' finance minister, Vassos Shiarly, said Wednesday that his country may have to seek an EU bailout in order to help recapitalize its banking sector before Sunday, when crucial elections are to take place in Greece. Cyprus has close cultural, business and political links with this country and whether or not Greece stays in the eurozone is largely believed to hinge on the result of the coming vote. Unable to borrow from international markets because of its low credit rating, Cyprus is looking to Europe, Russia and China for the best possible bailout terms, officials said on Wednesday according to Reuters. The third smallest EU member state could seek as much as €4 billion (US $5 billion), which is more than one fifth of its economy.
A court in Tbilisi has ordered the Georgian company Global TV to take down its satellites across Georgia, reports NewsGeorgia website. The decision comes as two prominent TV channels Rustavi-2 and Imedi filed a suit against Global TV demanding the company stops transmitting their signals. Three other stations withdrew their programs from Global TV, meaning the company will have to be dismantled. Global TV is the only company to broadcast the opposition Channel 9 across Georgia. Now that the company is ceasing work, Channel 9 will be available only via the Internet, which would exclude most of middle-aged and older Georgians from its audience.
The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Theodor Meron, has expressed serious concern over the continued detention of staff members at another criminal tribunal in Libya and is urging their immediate release. He called the detention of ICC staff members in Libya for over six days “unacceptable” stressing that Libyan authorities have obligations under Resolution 1970 of the United Nations Security Council to cooperate with the ICC. The four staff members have been detained since June 7.
Egypt’s justice minister has granted the military the power to arrest civilians, sparking fears it will lead to the return of emergency laws. The move will take effect on Thursday and remain in place at least until the new constitution is written. Previously, the army had had the right to arrest civilian citizens, but it was ended as decades-old emergency laws were lifted on May 31. The measure comes as tensions escalate in the country.
Washington provides “no military support” to the Syrian opposition, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton has said at a joint press conference with the PM of India. “All of our support has been medical and humanitarian,” she added. Clinton has also clarified her recent comments regarding the relationship between Moscow and Damascus by saying it is clearly a concern for Washington. “The US has repeatedly urged the Russian government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries,” she said.
UEFA has fined the Russian Football association $150,000 dollars following charges of “improper conduct” leveled at its supporters. Russian football fans were filmed fighting with stadium stewards after a Euro 2012 match. They were also accused of crowd disturbances which included setting off and throwing fireworks and displaying vulgar banners. UEFA is also investigating allegations that Russian fans hurled racist epithets at a Czech player during a match between the two countries on Friday.
Three aid workers have suffered minor injuries in northwest Syria as an explosion hit their convoy, says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The incident took place on Wednesday, when the two Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers and one ICRC staff member were traveling among aid workers from Aleppo to Idlib. This is the first time Red Cross staffers have been injured since violence broke out in Syria over 12 months ago. The ICRC does not know if the convoy was targeted or who was responsible for the blast.
The authorities have foiled a plot by military exiles loyal to the former president to overthrow the country's government, Cote d’Ivoire's interior minister has announced. Hamed Bakayoko said in television statement that a group of officers in exile in Ghana had planned a military operation with the objective of destabilization, AP reports. He also showed a video late Tuesday that allegedly was seized from the plotters. The video reportedly was planned to broadcast on national television after a coup. The video, in particular, criticizes the extradition of former President Laurent Gbagbo to The Hague on war crimes charges.
The demand by some countries for Russia to put pressure on the Syrian government to end the violence is a provocation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday. “The violence should be stopped by everyone,” he said after talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi. “If one part of the world community perceives the Kofi Annan plan only as the demand that Russia somehow make the Syrian authorities stop shooting…this attempt is a provocation,” Lavrov stressed. He said the Annan plan was not being implemented. But he added that most of those who are saying the plan does not work “are largely inciting the irreconcilable opposition to continue their armed provocations.”
Proposals from both Iran and the group of six world powers will be considered at the next round of talks in Moscow next week, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Wednesday. Saeed Jalili stressed that not just the West's demand to halt Iran's highest level uranium enrichment will be on the table. He added the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has agreed the negotiations will include Iranian proposals, AP reports. The new round of talks is scheduled to begin on Monday.
Syria is in a state of civil war, France's new Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday. He told reporters at a Paris news conference that “if you can’t call it a civil war, then there are no words to describe it,” AP reports. To stop “this civil war from worsening,” President Bashar al-Assad must leave power, Fabius said. After that, Syrian opposition groups must start a new government, the minister noted, adding that he will be in personal contact with the opposition inside Syria.
Detaining officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Libyan authorities are violating a UN Security Council’s resolution, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday. He noted that the new authorities in Libya have yet to strengthen central power. This is not the case so far, and foreign citizens sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation. Lavrov mentioned Russian military contractors who were convicted for assisting the former regime, and an official of the ICC who was detained in Libya. The UNSC 1940 resolution demands that the Libyan authorities should cooperate with the ICC, Lavrov said, as cited by Interfax.
Three air strikes have targeted areas held by militants in the town of Azzan, killing at least 30 fighters and wounding dozens more, Yemeni military in Shabwa province said on Wednesday. The attacks came after the army recaptured the cities of Jaar and Zinjibar on Tuesday, forcing hundreds of Islamist fighters to flee. Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, said US drones had launched five attacks in Azzan on Wednesday morning, Reuters said. The group denied any of its fighters had been killed or wounded.
At least 162 people have been arrested after days of rioting across Tunisia, the country’s officials said on Wednesday. Ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafis attacked an art exhibition they deemed insulting to Islam in the Tunis suburb of La Marsa on Sunday. They also attacked police stations earlier this week. Fehmi el-Aouini, 22, died of wounds sustained during the protest pitting Salafis against police in the eastern city of Sousse. On Wednesday, the heads of the state, the constituent assembly and the government made a joint statement, condemning both “extremist groups that threaten freedoms” and “attacks on religion.”
Leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday began her first European trip since 1988. She will address the annual meeting of the UN's International Labor Organization in Geneva on Thursday. In Oslo on Friday, Suu Kyi is formally to receive the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to her 21 years earlier, when she was detained by the military. The Myanmar democracy leader will also visit France, Ireland and Britain.
Syrian government forces have retaken control of a rebellious mountainous village, the state TV said on Wednesday. Security and order to the region of Haffa was restored after it had been "cleansed" from the "armed terrorist groups," the report said. The rebels had pulled out of the area overnight after intense fighting there and in nearby villages, AP reports. Haffa, 30 kilometers from President Bashar al-Assad's hometown of Kardaha in Latakia province, is one of areas where government forces are battling rebels for control.
Turkey's presidential palace has said that the 1993 death of then-President Turgut Ozal was “suspicious” and should be probed. There has been no satisfactory investigation into allegations by some family members and lawmakers that Ozal might have been poisoned, the State Auditing Board’s report said on Wednesday, as cited by AP. The board is under the direct supervision of President Abdullah Gul. Doctors at the time said Ozal, who is of Kurdish origin, died of heart failure. Ozal pushed pro-Western policies and a moderate approach in an attempt to end a war by Kurdish rebels.
The Red Cross office in the Libyan city of Misrata has been bombed, and one local man wounded in the blast, security sources said on Wednesday. The attack was likely carried out by a remote control bomb. “The walls of the building are damaged,” Reuters quote the source as saying. Tuesday’s attack is the second attack on the organization in less than a month.
A man was shot dead in the head during clashes between Salafi Islamist rioters and police, a doctor at the Farhat Hashed hospital in the coastal town of Sousse said on Wednesday. Police fired in the air in some areas to disperse protesters on Tuesday, Reuters said. The rioters were hurling rocks and petrol bombs. Deaths of protesters have been rare since last year's revolution ousted the country’s leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Egyptian lawmakers have appointed a panel to draft the country’s new constitution. The establishment of the new constitutional body on Tuesday night followed long talks after the previous panel was dissolved as not representing all political forces. The new panel has six months to compose a constitution to be approved by voters in a referendum. The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates the parliament, said the new panel is a representative body, but liberal politicians question the statement.
Iran’s oil exports have fallen by an estimated 40 per cent since the start of the year, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday. Preliminary indications suggested the exports fell to 1.5 million barrels per day in April-May from 2.5 million at end 2011. In the months ahead, Iran may need to shut down production volumes, the IEA’s monthly report said, as cited by Reuters. The agency believes Iran is still producing 3.3 million bpd, down from 3.5 million last year and stockpiling unsold oil. Tehran says it is not experiencing any problems with oil sales due to Western sanctions.
A military court in Tunisia sentenced ousted President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to 20 years imprisonment in absentia on Wednesday. He was convicted on various charges, including incitement to murder, the TAP news agency said. He was found guilty of “inciting disorder, murder and looting,” according to the court verdict over the deaths of four youths. They were shot dead in the town of Ouardanine in mid-January 2011. Ben Ali is living in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Israel will fly a first planeload of South Sudanese deportees home on Sunday, a spokeswoman for the Population and Migration Authority said. “We have about 150 so far,” Sabine Hadad told AFP on Wednesday. More are expected to follow later in the week. The authorities arrested 100 illegal immigrants on Tuesday, while another 300 people agreed to be repatriated voluntarily. Some 240 people have been detained for deportation since the current wave of arrests began on Sunday. Most of those detained are South Sudanese.
Istanbul police have shot dead one of two gunmen who attacked a police station. The unidentified assailants opened fire with automatic weapons and threw a grenade at the station at Istinye on the European shore of Istanbul late Tuesday, media reports say. Police are hunting for the accomplice who fled.
Rescuers have pulled the bodies of 71 people killed in Monday’s earthquake in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, RIA Novosti said, citing local police. More than 20 houses have been destroyed. The earthquake measuring a magnitude 5.4 struck the Hindu Kush region on Monday morning. It was followed by a 5.7 quake, according to the US Geological Survey.
China shipped missile launch vehicles to North Korea last year in breach of UN resolutions, a Japanese newspaper said Wednesday. Asahi Shimbun wrote four giant trucks capable of transporting and launching ballistic missiles were exported by a Chinese firm last August. The vehicles were likely those on display at the military parade in April marking the centenary of the birth of the state's founder Kim Il-sung. Beijing was never rebuked because the US did not want to embarrass China, the paper said, citing Japanese government sources.
A wave of bomb attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and police in southern Iraq killed at least 44 people on Wednesday. At least 18 people were killed when four bombs hit Shiite pilgrims across Baghdad, Reuters said. They gathered to mark the anniversary of the death of Shiite imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a great-grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. In the southern city of Hilla, two bombs, exploded outside restaurants frequented by police, killing 22 people and wounding 38. One bomb was detonated by a suicide car bomber. Two more car bombs killed four people in the city of Balad.
Twin bomb blasts have hit near a restaurant in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla, killing 10 people and injuring 32, say local police. It follows a sectarian attack on Shiite Muslims in Baghdad on Monday that left at least six dead.
The United Nations has proposed to raise US$200 million in aid for North Korea this year, RIA Novosti reports, citing UN spokesman Martin Nesirsky. The isolated communist state is suffering from a chronic shortage of food and energy. Nesirsky said some 16 million North Koreans are facing malnutrition and economic hardship. The official death toll released by the North Korean Food Damage Rehabilitation Committee in 1999 stands at 220,000, while various sources estimate that from two to three million people died between 1995 and 1998.
The Falkland Islands is to hold a referendum in 2013 in a bid to settle the sovereignty dispute between the UK and Argentina, The Independent reports. The surprise announcement by the local government was made ahead of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s attempt to step up pressure at the UN over the dispute. The future referendum is somewhat similar to the one held in Gibraltar in 2002, when the proposal of Britain sharing sovereignty with Spain was rejected by 98.5 per cent of the population.