In brief: Finance minister quits weeks after taking job
Nicosia, Cyprus – Finance minister Michalis Sarris resigned Tuesday after less than five weeks in the job, as the government begins an investigation into how the country’s economy nearly collapsed last month.
President Nicos Anastasiades accepted Sarris’ resignation, which came as Cyprus finalized the details of its bailout with international creditors. Harris Georgiades, the 41-year-old former labor minister, will become the new head of finance.
Sarris, 66, was appointed to the position after Anastasiades’ Conservatives won general elections in February, days before the island was overwhelmed by its financial crisis.
The minister, a former World Bank official who helped negotiate Cyprus’ euro membership in 2008, has come under strong criticism for his handling of the bailout negotiations. On top of that, he was last year the head of Laiki Bank, one of the troubled banks at the heart of the country’s financial problems.
Egypt increases pressure over critical comedian
Cairo – Egyptian authorities on Tuesday stepped up a campaign against a popular TV comedian accused of insulting the president, threatening to revoke the license of a private TV station that airs his weekly program.
The satirist, Bassem Youssef, was questioned by state prosecutors earlier this week over accusations that he insulted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and Islam.
The questioning of Youssef, along with arrest warrants issued days earlier against five anti-government activists on charges of inciting unrest, have raised warnings by opponents of Morsi of a campaign to intimidate his critics.
A new case was opened Tuesday, with prosecutors looking into whether participants in a talk show on another private channel who criticized the Youssef case “endangered national security.”
Four newspaper offices in Iraq hit by gunmen
Baghdad – Gunmen suspected of being Shiite militiamen burst into the offices of four independent newspapers in Baghdad, smashing their equipment, stabbing and beating employees, and even hurling one reporter from a roof in the most brazen attack against journalists in Iraq this year, said staff and officials on Tuesday.
Two editors said they believed their assailants were members of a Shiite militia, saying the raids came after their newspapers published stories criticizing their hard-line cleric-leader. It underscored the dangers facing the media in Iraq, one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters.
“The message of the assailants was to shut mouths,” said Bassam al-Sheikh, editor of one of the attacked newspapers, Al-Dustour.
“This is a dangerous precedent.”
A government spokesman condemned the attacks.
Some 50 assailants participated in Monday’s attacks, according to a notice left on one of the newspaper’s websites and according to al-Sheikh and Ali al-Daraji, the editor of another of the newspapers, Al-Mustaqila.