In a statement to the press, Security Council President Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said the members of the 15-nation body had been briefed on the situation in the DRC and expressed their deep concern over the latest developments in the eastern part of the country, particularly in the Kivus.”They strongly condemned the recent escalation of fighting in the region, in particular the offensives by the RCD-Goma, which constitutes a serious violation of the ceasefire and poses a threat to the political process in the DRC,” Ambassador Lavrov said. He added that the Council urged all the Congolese parties to overcome their differences peacefully and establish a transitional national government without further delay.Calling on all the parties in the eastern DRC for an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities and complete withdrawal to the previously agreed positions, the Council members also urged the Congolese parties, including the DRC Government, to refrain from any new deployments or other provocative actions.Ambassador Lavrov said Council members called on all the parties to commit fully to the political process and to renounce completely and decisively the military path. With that in mind, they urged all parties concerned to comply fully with the Lusaka agreement, the Kampala and Harare disengagement plans, the Pretoria and Luanda accords and the Acte d’Engagement for the cessation of hostilities in the eastern and northeastern DRC signed in Bujumbura on 19 June.”Members of the Council urged all governments in the region to exercise a positive influence on the Congolese parties in support of the peace process,” he said.Also expressing their deep concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region, Council members strongly condemned human rights violations and reaffirmed that such acts would not remain unpunished. Ambassador Lavrov said they also reiterated their call on the parties to provide safe and unimpeded access for international humanitarian assistance.The Council also condemned the recent abduction of two UN military observers, welcomed their release and demanded that all the parties abide fully by their obligation to provide full and unhindered access to the UN peacekeeping mission to allow it to carry out its mandate.Meanwhile in the DRC, the official deadline for the withdrawal of Congolese Union of Patriots troops from war-torn Bunia ended yesterday at noon local time, with the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) reporting that the withdrawal was in progress.Bunia has now been declared an “arms-free town” and it has become illegal to carry weapons of any type. The international emergency force deployed in the town had earlier issued an ultimatum banning all “visible armed presence” in Bunia, and following the expiration of yesterday’s deadline for gunmen to leave, the force will confiscate weapons carried in the streets.In Kinshasa, the 68 representatives of the political opposition to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue are scheduled to meet under the auspices of the International Committee for Support to the Transition and in the presence of the Follow-Up Commission.The meeting will try to designate members from the committee who will form a part of the transition government. Their failure to take a decision on representatives has been one of the stumbling blocks for the formation of the transition government.
Cyprus cabinet approves budget, withholds figures until bailout talks with troika complete NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus approved next year’s budget Saturday without releasing any figures because of the country’s ongoing bailout talks with potential creditors.The “tight” budget incorporates additional spending cuts, slashes an additional 1,000 positions from the bloated public sector by hiring to fill only a quarter of jobs vacated by retiring workers, while channeling funds for growth-boosting infrastructure projects, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said.Budget figures were being withheld because they will change once bailout terms and conditions agreed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund â€” collectively known as the troika â€” are adopted, Stefanou said.Cyprus, whose â‚¬18 billion ($23.38 billion) economy is one of the smallest in Europe, has been unable to borrow from international markets since last year after its credit rating was cut to junk mainly because of its banks’ large exposure to debt-ridden Greece. In June, the country joined fellow eurozone members Ireland, Portugal and Greece in seeking international aid to support its banks.The government held two rounds of talks with troika officials in the capital in July. The officials are expected back early next month.Although acknowledging that such cuts are “inevitable,” Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly said this week the government wants to avoid steep, across-the-board cuts to public sector salaries, benefits and pensions that the troika is recommending, so as not to trigger a “chill” in the domestic market, prolong the recession and put added strain on low-income earners. Instead, the government would prefer to enact cuts according to an income-based sliding scale.Shiarly said the government’s assessment of how much the country’s banks need to recapitalize varies significantly from the troika’s own estimate. The government also wants to extend the three-year implementation timeframe of troika-negotiated austerity measures by at least another year to help ease the economy out of recession. Cyprus’ economy is projected to contract 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product this year.Stefanou said the government will consult with powerful trade unions and opposition parties on its own austerity proposals before troika officials return.The budget’s approval came in the wake of controversial remarks by the leader of communist party AKEL â€” from which President Dimitris Christofias hails â€” that Cyprus’ exit from the eurozone in case troika officials insist on “extremely painful” austerity measures should be looked at by experts. The government promptly issued a written statement that there is “no such issue.” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by News Staff Posted Sep 22, 2012 1:31 pm MDT