Foreign Minister Kyprianou Set To Resign - Spokesman
"Mr. Kyprianou has express his intention to resign for reasons to do with the tragedy last week," said Stefanou in comments to the press at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia.
In his own statement, Kyprianou said he was sorry for any mistakes that led to the tragedy at the Evangelos Florakis naval base. But he distanced himself from responsibility, asking what was to blame the most; the diplomatic decision in the national interest? Or the authorities responsible for storing the munitions in an unsafe manner at the naval base?
In the latest development, President Demetris Christofias asked Kyprianou not to resign, but said that it was up to him.
The news comes amid emergency meetings being held at the Palace and House of Representatives to discuss measures to solve the problems created by the blast. In an atmosphere of palpable tension, relatives of the 13 men who were killed in the explosion demonstrated outside Parliament, angrily condemning politicians who turned up for the morning meetings.
"Murderers!" screamed a woman dressed in black.
"We've been betrayed!" shouted other demonstrators.
Political party leaders are trying to calm the public, and have called for a planned demonstration outside the Presidential Palace on July 19th to be moved to Eleftheria Square instead. There are fears of potential clashes between anti-government protestors and anti-invasion protestors. The anti-invasion protestors will be inside the Presidential Palace, and the anti-government demonstrators would be outside - in a scenario ripe with potential trouble.
Speaking after a National Council meeting, DISY party president Nikos Anastassiades called for anti-government protestors to move their demonstration to Eleftheria Square.
Protests and power cuts are continuing into the second week after Vassiliko power station was crippled in the explosion. The largest power station on the island, with a capacity of 800 megawatts, was hit by a shockwave from the blast at Evangelos Florakis naval base on July 11th. At 5:55am, 98 containers with explosives blew up, killing 13 men and buckling two of the large fuel tankers at the power station. There was also substantial damage to a new unit which had just been finished and would have supplied a further 200 megawatts.
The containers were confiscated from the Cypriot-flagged MV Monchegorsk in 2009. The ship was leased by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) and owned by Limassol-based company NB Maritime Management. The weapons on board were en route to Syria in breach of UN sanctions and were being investigated for links to Iran's defence and nuclear industries.
A few hours after the blast, the minister of defence and national guard chief both resigned, and since then, calls for President Demetris Christofias to resign have grown louder and louder. In the days since July 11th, thousands of demonstrators have protested outside the Presidential Palace in the capital, but he has shrugged off the public's demands for his resignation. After a meeting of the council of ministers, lawyer Polys Polyviou was put in charge of an investigation into the deadly explosion, and attorney-general Petros Clerides launched an investigation through the police.
Photo credit: Sigma TV