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Uruguay economy minister resigns over airline scandal

PTI | Last Updated: Monday, December 23, 2013 - 09:55

Montevideo: Uruguay`s economy minister has resigned as he faces a probe over the 2012 collapse of national airline Pluna, a scandal that has tainted President Jose Mujica`s administration.

Fernando Lorenzo stepped down Saturday "on his own impulse, to facilitate the justice department`s work," Mujica said in a message to reporters, in which he emphasized that the government will maintain its economic policy plans.

The government has not yet announced a successor to Lorenzo. Mujica however called him "a brilliant minister entirely devoted to the interest of the country."

Lorenzo, 53, had been in the government since March 2010, after taking over the ministry from Daniel Aristo, now vice president.

Before resigning, Lorenzo testified for three hours before a tribunal charged with investigating organized crime.
Prosecutor Juan Gomez has asked to put Lorenzo on trial for abusing his position, but Judge Adriana de los Santos has turned the matter over to the Supreme Court, Lorenzo`s lawyer, Amadeo Ottati, told reporters.

A Supreme Court decision on whether Lorenzo should stand trial "could take months," Ottati said.

"I feel very calm about the proceedings," Lorenzo has said, adding that he was ready to face the probe.
Uruguay is investigating the bankrupcy of Pluna, in particular an auction in which Spanish company Cosmo Lineas Aereas bid to buy the Pluna`s equipment but later said it had insufficient capital to make the purchase.
It is this aspect of the affair in which Lorenzo is implicated.

Bangladesh General Elections: US not to deploy observers

Washington: The US today said it will not deploy poll observers in Bangladesh for the January 5 general elections, as more than half of the parliamentary seats remain uncontested because of the boycott by the opposition parties.

"The United States will not deploy observers for these elections.?We remain prepared to reengage our observation efforts at a later time in a more conducive environment," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

The US urges the major parties to continue their dialogue and redouble their efforts to find a solution worthy of the people of Bangladesh, she said, adding the Bangladeshi people deserve the opportunity to elect their representatives in a climate free of violence and intimidation.

"The nation`s political leadership - and those who aspire to lead - must ensure law and order and refrain from supporting violence, inflammatory rhetoric, and intimidation. The United States encourages all political parties and Bangladeshi citizens to participate peacefully in the political process.
Violence is not acceptable because it subverts the democratic process," Psaki said.

First Published: Monday, December 23, 2013 - 09:55
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