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Posts Tagged ‘despite’

S.Korea stays on guard despite N.Korea concessions

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

A wary South Korea stayed on alert Tuesday despite North Korea’s failure to retaliate for a live-fire drill, as the United States expressed scepticism about Pyongyang’s reported nuclear concessions.

Hours after the South defied North Korea’s threats to stage the exercise near the disputed sea border, the North’s military announced Monday it “did not feel any need to retaliate against every despicable military provocation”.

South Korean marines patrol on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong

The comments eased fears of war on the peninsula, following almost a month of high tensions.

The North used a similar artillery drill on Yeonpyeong island on November 23 as a pretext for a bombardment of the island which killed four people including civilians and damaged dozens of homes.

Pyongyang had threatened an even deadlier attack if Monday’s drill went ahead, only to change tack with an unusual display of restraint, which came after China blocked efforts at the UN Security Council to condemn the North.

The South’s military, accused of responding feebly to last month’s attack, said it would keep its guard up.

“This is the most serious crisis in our national defence since the (1950-53) Korean War,” Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin told parliament Tuesday.

“We are maintaining thorough military readiness at sea including Yeonpyeong island against possible provocations by the North,” Kim said, promising strong retaliation for any future attack.

The North’s softer stance coincided with apparent concessions on its nuclear programmes to visiting US politician Bill Richardson.

The New Mexico governor, a veteran troubleshooter with the North, said it had offered to re-admit UN nuclear inspectors and to negotiate the sale of fuel rods — capable of producing bomb-making plutonium — to a third party.

The North, Richardson said, had also proposed a military commission grouping the two Koreas and the United States to prevent conflicts in disputed areas of the Yellow Sea, and to reconnect a crisis hotline.

North Korea in April 2009 pulled out of six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and ordered US and UN nuclear inspectors out of the country. It staged its second nuclear test a month later.

The US State Department expressed scepticism.

“North Korea talks a great game. They always do. The real issue is what will they do,” said spokesman Philip Crowley.

“If they are agreeable to returning IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors to their country, they have to tell the IAEA that.

“We’ve seen a string of broken promises by North Korea going back many, many years.”

The South, deploying warships and jet fighters to guard against any counterstrike, went ahead with its artillery drill Monday after the UN Security Council failed to agree a statement to ease the crisis.

China blocked moves to criticise its ally the North for last month’s attack, diplomats said.

A senior Seoul government official said the North’s decision not to retaliate was partly swayed by diplomatic concerns.

“I think North Korea does not want to be diplomatically isolated and targeted by all (key) members of the Security Council,” he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The official said recent provocations were linked to North Korean efforts to strengthen the status of Kim Jong-Un as eventual successor to his father, leader Kim Jong-Il.

Similar attacks were staged in the 1980s when Kim Jong-Il was trying to bolster his own status as a strong and capable future leader, he said. “This is the same situation, different people.”

The official also said the North may not have attacked on Monday because the South’s military was fully prepared. “North Korea has already implied it might be tempted to make another strike or provocation — we have to watch.”

Source: SGGP

Assange vows WikiLeaks to stay strong despite new blow

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2010 at 8:26 am

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the site will stay strong despite another blow to its funding and the publication Sunday of new details of the sex crime allegations against him

 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the site will stay strong despite another blow to its funding and the publication Sunday of new details of the sex crime allegations against him.

The Australian began his third full day under “mansion arrest” at a friend’s house while he fights extradition to Sweden, vowing that the whistleblowing website would continue to publish more secre US diplomatic cables.

Assange on Saturday denounced Bank of America, the largest US bank, for becoming the latest institution to halt financial transactions for Wikileaks after MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others.

The bank said its decision was “based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”

“It’s a new type of business McCarthyism in the US to deprive this organisation of the funds that it needs to survive, to deprive me personally of the funds that my lawyers need to protect me against extradition to the US or to Sweden,” Assange told AFP.

The term was coined to describe the anti-communist pursuits of former US senator Joseph McCarthy from the late 1940s to the 1950s.

Assange is staying at Ellingham Hall, the mansion in eastern England of journalist friend Vaughan Smith, as part of the conditions of bail, which he was granted by London’s High Court on Thursday.

He must also report daily to a nearby police station and wear an electronic tag.

Several British newspapers published lurid new details of the allegations of sexual assault against two women, over which Swedish prosecutors want to question him. The 39-year-old denies the charges.

The Guardian newspaper — which has cooperated with WikiLeaks on the publication of the US documents — and the Mail on Sunday both reported that the two women with whom he had sex in Sweden had gone to police after he refused to take an HIV test.

Assange hit out at Swedish handling of the case, accusing authorities there of leaking fresh details about the case that even he and his defence lawyers have not had access to.

The former computer hacker also reiterated that there were threats against his life and those of the website’s staff, but he vowed that WikiLeaks would continue publishing the cables.

“We are a robust organisation. During my time in solitary confinement we continued to publish every day and its not going to change,” he said.

Assange claimed earlier in an interview with Forbes magazine that a “megaleak” by the website will target a major US bank “early next year”.

WikiLeaks has enraged Washington with its release of thousands of leaked US diplomatic cables and confidential military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Assange said Friday it looked “increasingly likely” the US would try to extradite him on charges related to the leaked cables as he savoured his first day on bail.

He said his lawyers believed a secret US grand jury investigation had been started into his role in the release.

Media reports suggest that US prosecutors are trying to build a case against Assange on the grounds that he encouraged a US soldier, Bradley Manning, to steal US cables from a government computer and pass them to WikiLeaks.

A report by congressional researchers said the Espionage Act and other US laws could be used to prosecute Assange, but there is no known precedent for prosecuting publishers in such a case.

The latest US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks indicated that the United Nations offered Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe a retirement package and safe haven overseas if he agreed to stand down.

The offer was made by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general at the time in 2000, said the memo, which was drawn up by US officials and cited the then-opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Source: SGGP

S.Korea to go ahead with fire drill despite N.Korea threat

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

South Korea’s military said Saturday it would go ahead with a live-fire drill on a border island bombarded by North Korea last month, despite the North’s threat to strike back again with deadlier firepower.

A South Korean Navy vessel berths at a Movement Sea Base (MSB) off the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 17, 2010.

But an AFP photographer on Yeonpyeong island said the atmosphere was calm and a media report said the one-day training exercise — scheduled for sometime between Saturday and Tuesday — may be delayed till next week.

“There is no change in our stance with regards to the live-fire exercise,” a defence ministry spokesman told AFP. “We cannot confirm… whether we will carry out the exercise today.”

The North threatened Friday to “deal the second and third unpredictable self-defensive blow” if the artillery exercise goes ahead.

“It will be deadlier than what was made on November 23 in terms of the powerfulness and sphere of the strike,” it said.

Pyongyang disputes the Yellow Sea border drawn after the 1950-53 war and claims the waters around Yeonpyeong and other frontline islands as its own maritime territory.

The November 23 bombardment killed two marines and two civilians and damaged dozens of homes. It came after a firing drill into the sea by South Korean marines based on the island.

The North’s latest warning sharply raised the stakes in the regional crisis.

Russia urged South Korea not to go ahead with the exercise and China, the North’s sole major ally, said it opposed any action that would raise tensions.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned South Korea’s ambassador Yu Woo-Ik Friday afternoon to express concern at the planned drill, Yonhap news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

South Korea, outraged at the first shelling of civilian areas since the war, has fortified Yeonpyeong with more troops and artillery and vowed to use air power against any future attack.

Its military has said artillery will be aimed away from the North as usual during the upcoming drill, but it would respond strongly if provoked.

But a military source quoted by Yonhap said the firing might be delayed a day or two.

“Weather conditions are the most important factor in deciding the time for a drill. Early next week will be the most likely time to hold it because the weather should improve,” the source said.

Asked why weather was a factor, a military spokesman cited comments by a government source in Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

“The live-fire exercise itself will end in 1-2 hours, but since we have to prepare for North Korea’s provocation afterwards, there is a good possibility the exercise will be delayed to when the weather is good all day long,” the source was quoted as saying.

“It is highly likely that the drill will be held early next week.”

The South’s close ally the United States plans to send some 20 US soldiers to play a supporting role in the drill.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley Friday again defended the South’s right to hold the drill in the face of North Korea’s “ongoing provocations”.

But he said Washington trusts that the South “will be very cautious in terms of what it does”.

Pyongyang’s disclosure last month of an apparently working uranium enrichment plant — a potential new source of bomb-making material — has also heightened regional security fears.

The North’s website Uriminzokkiri said the drill could spark nuclear war.

“It is clear if war breaks out again in this land, a grave nuclear disaster will take place which will bear no comparison to the Korean War.”

US troubleshooter Bill Richardson said he urged North Korean officials during his current visit to Pyongyang to let the South go ahead with the drill.

“I’m urging them extreme restraint,” the New Mexico governor told CNN, saying he was “very, very strong with foreign ministry officials” during a dinner on Friday.

“I think I made a little headway,” Richardson said. “My sense from the North Koreans is that they are trying to find ways to tamp things down.”

Analyst Andrei Lankov said that for the first time in decades, a new war appeared to be a distinct probability.

Lankov, a professor at Seoul’s Kookmin University, said the Pyongyang regime seemed determined to escalate provocations, and South Korean society was in “unusually bellicose mood” after the last Yeonpyeong attack.

But in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, Lankov said “the hard truth is that restraint is the only option for South Korea”.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea kicks off military drill despite threats

In Uncategorized on August 5, 2010 at 7:21 am

South Korea on Thursday launched its largest-ever anti-submarine exercise including live-fire training near the disputed sea border with North Korea, despite Pyongyang’s threats of retaliation.

The South has warned the North it will not tolerate provocations during the five-day naval drill in the Yellow Sea, being staged in response to what it says was a deadly North Korean torpedo attack on a warship.

South Korean Marines on patrol on Baengnyeong island near the border with North Korea in March 2010.

“This is the largest anti-submarine exercise in our military history, involving the army, navy, air force and marines,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesman told AFP.

South Korea is mobilising 4,500 troops, backed by top-of-the-line war machines including 29 ships such as submarines and destroyers and 50 aircraft including jet fighters and attack helicopters.

The exercise comes eight days after South Korea and the United States ended a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) as a show of force against the North.

Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility for the March sinking of the corvette the Cheonan, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The JCS said the latest exercise is “defensive” in nature, focused on repelling attacks by sea, including those by the North’s feared commandoes riding hovercrafts.

Marines stationed on islands near the disputed Yellow Sea border with the North would stage live-fire battery exercises but the guns will be trained southwest.

“We don’t fire toward the sea border, even if the North does sometimes in provocative acts,” the JCS spokesman said.

Anti-submarine training involving torpedo and depth charge firing will also take place in the Yellow Sea but far south of the border, he added.

“Except for the batteries on the islands, you won’t hear much of the sound of live fire in the sea near the border,” he said.

This week’s exercise is one of a raft of drills planned by the South separately or jointly with its ally the United States in the aftermath of the sinking of the Cheonan.

A multinational investigation concluded that the warship had been torpedoed by one of the North’s submarines near the border in the Yellow Sea, the scene of several naval clashes in the past.

Pyongyang vehemently denies involvement but Washington slapped it with new sanctions to punish it for the alleged attack and to push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

The North’s military Tuesday blasted this week’s exercise as a “direct military invasion” and warned “reckless naval firing” by the South would be countered “with strong physical retaliation.”

“Raising issue with the legitimate, defensive exercise is a provocation in itself,” said Rear Admiral Kim Kyung-Sik of South Korea’s JCS said Wednesday. “Our armed forces will closely monitor enemy movements during these drills.”

The sinking of the Cheonan deepened an emerging Cold-War style confrontation between China and North Korea on one side and the United States and South Korea on the other.

China last week staged a large naval and air exercise on its southeast coast — just as South Korea and the United States conducted their own naval drill — and on Tuesday launched large-scale air defence manoeuvres.

China is North Korea’s closest ally and trade partner and has refused to join in international condemnation of Pyongyang over the warship sinking.

Beijing had expressed concern about the US-South Korea exercise, which was initially supposed to be held in the Yellow Sea separating China and the Korean peninsula but was relocated to the Sea of Japan after Beijing’s protests.

China has warned against further actions it says could raise tensions in the region.

Source: SGGP

Farmers determined to sue polluter Vedan despite increased offer

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Farmers determined to sue polluter Vedan despite increased offer

QĐND – Thursday, July 29, 2010, 20:39 (GMT+7)

Taiwanese monosodium glutamate producer Vedan Vietnam raised its compensation offer to Vietnamese farmers affected by its untreated wastewater to a combined VND130 billion (US$6.8 million), up from VND56 billion earlier, but tillers are still determined to sue the company as they consider the proposed figure unsatisfactory.

Vedan sent an official letter on July 28 to the Prime Minister of Vietnam and People’s Committees of Ho Chi Minh City, and southern provinces Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau to offer the raised rate of compensation.

The company said it would give affected farmers in Ho Chi Minh City VND30 billion instead of the VND16 billion it offered earlier; farmers of Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces have now been offered VND60 billion and VND40 billion, instead of VND30 billion and VND10 billion respectively.

Vedan said it hoped the raise of compensation would resolve the case definitively.

Seeking to avoid a lawsuit, this is the fifth time Vedan has haggled over damages.

Though the latest proposed compensation represents an increase of almost six fold compared to Vendan’s first offer in a year ago, it is still considerably lower than the damages claimed by farmers.

HCMC authorities have asked Vedan to pay VND45.7 billion, while Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau have asked the company to pay VND120 billion and over VND53 billion respectively.

Therefore, farmers said they would sue Vedan for proper damages.

Nguyen Van Phung, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Farmers’ Association, said Vedan’s offer of VND30 billion to tillers in the city’s Can Gio District is too low.

At present, files of 839 affected families in the district are complete, and lawyers authorized by the farmers will soon file lawsuit applications against Vedan with the district People’s Court, he added.

Meanwhile, Tran Van Cuong, deputy director of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department and head of the committee for assessing damage caused by Vedan, said the province’s authorized lawyers would continue to send all files of 1,253 affected families to the Tan Thanh District People’s Court.

He said the province will stop sending lawsuit applications only when Vedan agrees to pay farmers the VND53 billion they have required.

Nguyen Duc, chairman of the Dong Nai Province Bar, said Vedan and tillers can negotiate in court, and his bar members will continue to offer advice and legal assistance.

The Ministry of National Resources and Environment also held a meeting yesterday to define the responsibilities of State agencies in forcing Vedan to honor its commitment to pay reparations to affected tillers.

At the meeting, minister Pham Khoi Nguyen said the ministry would assume the responsibility for demanding that Vedan pay damages, and that the Environment Protection Fund would cover farmers’ legal fees.

Vedan’s untreated wastewater killed aquaculture and riverside crops in HCMC,  Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and Dong Nai Province from 1994-2008.

Over the period, the company dumped 105 million liters of untreated wastewater into the river each month via a secret pipeline.

For two years since the act was uncovered, farmers and Vietnamese authorities have been asking Vedan to assume financial responsibility for their pollution, but the company’s offers have been consistently rejected as too low.

Source: SGGP

Source: QDND

Salt farmers struggle despite ministry’s policy

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:19 am

Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development directed the Bac Lieu Salt and Trading Company to purchase over 30,000 tons of salt from farmers in the Mekong delta province of Bac Lieu, currently with 200,000 tons in stock, two weeks later, the company had only bought a small quantity of salt.

Salt farmers in Bac Lieu province have bumper harvest but can’t sell as the company only purchase white clean salt but farmers have more black variety (Photo: SGGP)

Company director Ho Thanh Tuan admitted his firm had only bought 1,000 tons of salt, despite the Ministry request to collect 10,000 tons of clean salt, justifying the tardiness on a lack of funds and means of transportation.

Tuan said that next week the salt company would pay salt makers and cooperatives money at their homes, with government representative there as witnesses and then would collect the salt afterwards.

As happy as salt farmers were to hear the government mandate for companies to buy their overstocked salt, they became even more disappointed when the company only sought to buy clean, white salt, as they had produced more black salt more than the white variety.

Dong Hai District salt farmer Do Van Thiet was in despair because he has produced 40 tons of salt, but has sold only half that quantity.

Most salt farmers in the region have borrowed money, which they spent immediately, promising to repay the loans when after harvesting salt. Thus, they have been forced to sell their salt to traders at very low prices, desperate to pay debts.

Moreover, the hard work of farmers will go unrewarded if it rains over the salt fields, where they have invested much time and effort, their hopes now in danger of washing away in the rain.

To escape this plight, many salt farmers have left the countryside to seek jobs faraway from home. Truong Van Luom and Ha Van Duoc have relocated to Ho Chi Minh City to make money.

Despite selling 800 tons of white salt at VND700 per kilogram at fields, Nguyen Van Minh, deputy head of Diem Nghiep Cooperative, still complained that farmers in his cooperative have profited less than they would have had they grown rice; worse, farmers have grown large quantities of black salt, which fetches VND300 a kilogram, but has attracted very few buyers.

Phan Minh Quang, vice director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said a solution is needed to help farmers escape their present plight; otherwise, the ministry’s policy to purchase salt from farmers would fail completely.

Related article:
Mekong salt makers can’t sell bumper harvest

Source: SGGP

BP oil well cap holds despite pressure anomaly

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Engineers probed BP’s ruptured Gulf oil well for leaks on Saturday but said a giant cap placed on it two days ago appears to be holding despite puzzling pressure readings.

BP insisted after the first 24 hours of tests that the cap was holding after being shut on Thursday and that the wellhead was withstanding the force of oil bubbling up from the reservoir deep under the Gulf of Mexico.

AFP/BP – This still image from a live BP video feed shows no apparent oil leakage in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We haven’t seen any indication… that we have got any oil or gas escaping from the well,” BP senior vice president Kent Wells told reporters after the oil flow was choked off for the first time in three months.

BP’s optimism came after analyzing temperature readings, data from acoustic sensors listening for any flow of oil and scanning pictures from robotic cameras working a mile down (1,600 meters) on the sea floor.

Tests are due to last until late Saturday, after BP engineers on Thursday closed three valves on the new cap on top of the fractured wellhead stopping the flow of oil.

US President Barack Obama said the halt to the oil flow is “good news,” but cautioned: “It is important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves.”

He acknowledged there is still “an enormous amount of work to do,” but called on Americans to remain positive.

Government pointman, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, said although the results are “generally good news,” the critical pressure readings are not as high as had been expected at the halfway stage of the 48-hour tests, and it is unclear why.

“We need to be careful not to do any harm, or create a situation that cannot be reversed,” he cautioned.

Allen said the administration has ordered BP to carry out even more seismic and acoustic surveys, due to the inconclusive pressure readings.

High readings mean the well is still intact and there is no seepage into the sea floor. Low readings would indicate the casing of the wellbore was damaged in the April explosion and oil is escaping.

The pressure readings after 24 hours were middling at about 6,700 psi (461 bar), which Allen said meant “there was probably some ambiguity regarding the flow.”

Two possible scenarios had emerged. “One of them could be the pressure is lower because we have depleted the reservoir,” Allen said.

The second possibility is that the oil was leaking “someplace in the well itself,” Allen said. “We don’t know, as we don’t know the exact condition of the wellbore.”

The cap’s apparent success is a glimmer of hope that the worst US oil spill in history may soon be capped, allowing efforts to turn to the grim job of cleaning up hundreds of miles (kilometers) of contaminated shoreline.

“I was jumping up and down for a while when I saw it was capped,” said O’Neil Sevin, who runs a bayou-side shop selling bait, seafood, beer, tackle and snacks to recreational fishermen in Chauvin, Louisiana.

Estimates suggest anywhere between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of crude have been leaking into the Gulf every day since the rig sank April 22, two days after an explosion on Deepwater Horizon platform which killed 11 workers.

The International Energy agency has calculated there are between 2.3 million and 4.5 million barrels of crude sloshing around in the sea.

A permanent end to the spill is not expected before mid-August, when two relief wells should enable BP to fill the ruptured wellbore with cement, drowning the oil flowing up from a huge undersea reservoir.

The wellbore stretches for several miles below the floor of the sea and any underground damage could trigger new, possibly catastrophic leaks.

Gulf residents, who are heavily dependent on the fishing and tourism industries, have seen their livelihoods ravaged and the complicated and expensive clean-up process is likely to take years.

Endangered wildlife has also been increasingly threatened by huge ribbons of oil fouling the shores of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

BP has so far spent at least 3.5 billion dollars dealing with the spill, and compensation claims could eventually cost 10 times that amount, with BP agreeing to set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to pay damages.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea airports introduce body scanners despite criticism

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

SEOUL, July 1, 2010 (AFP) – South Korean airports Thursday began testing full body scanners to screen passengers, despite complaints from the state human rights watchdog that they violate personal privacy.

Six full body scanners made by British or US firms have been installed at four international airports at Incheon, Gimpo, Gimhae and Jeju, the transport ministry said.

“Airports will start using them probably in late July after a month-long test operation and education,” a ministry official in charge of airport security told AFP.

On Wednesday the National Human Rights Commission urged the ministry to cancel its plan to introduce the scanners, fearing they may violate privacy as they can generate images of the entire body.

The images can be leaked and used improperly, the watchdog said, citing a case in which a British airport official used the scanner to take pictures of his female colleague.

The ministry official, however, insisted South Korean airports would not give up what he called an effective way of preventing terrorism.

“As seen in many other countries, full body scanners are very effective. We will use them after working out measures to protect personal privacy,” he said.

“Passengers can opt to go through manual scanning, and controversial images created by scanners will be blurred,” he said, adding airport officials would be barred from storing or transmitting images.

The machines have proved controversial in several parts of the world but some European countries and the United States are introducing them.

Source: SGGP

Troubled Kyrgyzstan holds poll despite warnings

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Kyrgyzstan’s interim leaders on Sunday hailed a strong turnout in a referendum on a new constitution, held in defiance of warnings that it risked inflaming ethnic tensions after deadly clashes.

People cast their ballot papers into mobile voting box in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, Sunday, June 27, 2010 during a referendum on a new constitution.

With five hours of voting left on the constitution which would make Kyrgyzstan a parliamentary democracy, turnout nationwide was already 42.98 percent, the central election commission said in a statement.

The interim authorities have defiantly pressed ahead with the vote despite horrific clashes between minority Uzbeks and majority Kyrgyz earlier this month that killed hundreds and sparked fears the country faced collapse.

Respectable numbers were showing up to cast their ballots in the southern city of Osh — the epicentre of the violence — with the situation calm and no reports of unrest, an AFP correspondent reported.

The turnout “rejects the myth that Kyrgyzstan is collapsing, that there is a civil war,” said deputy interim government leader Omurbek Tekebayev.

The new constitution would slash the powers of the president and is the centrepiece of the interim government’s blueprint for a new Kyrgyzstan after it came to power amid April riots that toppled president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Bakiyev, who has taken sanctuary in Belarus, was blamed by the authorities for last month’s bloodshed but has denied any involvement. Initial results are expected in the next two days, officials said.

“We will show the world that Kyrgyzstan is united,” said interim leader Roza Otunbayeva as she cast her vote in Osh. “We want to heal ourselves from the pain that struck as a result of the tragic events.”

The authorities temporarily lifted a curfew in the south — imposed in the wake of the violence — so that the vote could go ahead. It will be reimposed after the vote and run from 9:00 pm until 6:00 am, Otunbayeva said.

“I voted ‘yes’ so that the situation gets better. Many Uzbeks have suffered and several members of my family died. I am scared but I came to vote,” said Dlora Kazakbayeva, an Uzbek woman, after voting in Osh.

The new constitution — if adopted — will make the former Soviet republic ex-Soviet Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy in a region notorious for authoritarian leaders.

The referendum will set the stage for parliamentary elections that authorities have scheduled for early September to bring in a permanent government.

But several international observers warned the referendum is a premature step so soon after the violence.

Human Rights Watch said the referendum threatened to make the situation “even more volatile” while the International Crisis Group urged the government to reconsider the holding of the poll.

The list of voters was the main problem for the referendum and up to 16 percent of the electorate in some regions would not be able to vote, a total of some 200,000 people nationwide, Tekebayev admitted.

But he said the outside fears were unfounded and also slammed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other world leaders for suggesting that the country risked breaking up and “Afghanization”.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the West’s main election monitoring body, scrapped a planned mission of 300 observers to oversee the vote because of security concerns.

However large-scale violence has ceased and authorities said Saturday that all 75,000 people who fled the violence to neighbouring Uzbekistan had now returned.

The clashes, which killed 283 people according to the latest toll, were the worst ethnic violence to hit impoverished Kyrgyzstan since it gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly two decades ago.

Victims of the unrest have told AFP that the violence was a brutal and orchestrated campaign by armed Kyrgyz militias targeting Uzbeks, who make up about 14 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population of 5.3 million.

Officials have said the true death toll could have been as high as 2,000.

Source: SGGP

VN-Index revives despite global slump

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Movement of VN-Index on June 23. (Photo:’s benchmark VN-Index struggled to recover on June 23, despite help from rallying penny-chips, while most blue-chips were under pressure to sell.

The shares of 241 companies and four mutual funds listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange inched up 0.04 percent, or 0.19 points, to close at 512.82.

Liquidity on the city bourse dropped by 36 percent in quantity and 37 percent in value over previous day, as around 49.2 million shares changed hands, totaling VND1.3 trillion.

On the index, the number of winners equaled to that of losers at 91. Meanwhile, 63 remained unchanged.

The Hanoi-based Long Giang Investment and Urban Development Joint Stock Company (LGL) and power producer Song Ba Joint Stock Company (SBA), located in the central city of Danang, both finished the day having increased the allowed daily limit of 5 percent, moving to VND35,700 and VND12,600 respectively.

Petroleum Industrial & Civil Construction Joint Stock Company (PXI) rallied for a second consecutive day, advancing 4.95 percent to VND31,800.

PetroVietNam Transportation Corporation (PVT), which saw 3.13 million shares traded, was the most active share in volume today.

Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Corporation (REE) came in next with 2.32 million shares, followed by Ocean Group Joint Stock Company (OCG) with 1.83 million shares.

The Hanoi’s HNX-Index also gained 0.58 percent, or 0.94 points, to finish at 162.86. Trading volume was at 37.8 million shares, valued at VND1.17 trillion.

The UPCoM-Index gave up 0.04 points, falling to 46.55, as of 11:20 am local time. A total of 121,172 shares changed hands at VND1.6 billion.

Globally, most stock markets finished in the red as the US real estate market unexpectedly turned gloomy.

Dow Jones Industrial Average index dropped 1.43 percent, or 148.89 points, to 10,293.52. The Nasdaq Composite index declined 1.19 percent. S&P 500 index lost 1.61 percent.

FTSE 100 retreated 0.88 percent. Germany’s DAX slid 0.38 percent.

Asian stocks ended their winning-streak of 8 consecutive sessions of gains, as investors dumped shares.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gave up 1.87 percent as yen climbed after an unexpected drop in US home sales, adding to speculation the global economic recovery may be faltering.

China’s Shanghai Composite index also edged down by 0.86 percent.

Source: SGGP