Ecuador, Britain in talks over Assange fate: Ecuadorian president

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain, in this May 19, 2017 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 30 July 2018

Ecuador, Britain in talks over Assange fate: Ecuadorian president

  • Assange sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, which he denies
  • Swedish authorities dropped their investigations last year, but British authorities still want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions

MADRID: Ecuador is in talks with Britain over the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted political asylum, the country’s president said in an interview published Sunday.
“The issue of Mr. Assange is being treated with the British government and I understand that we have already established contact with Mr. Assange’s lawyers so we can find a way out,” Ecuador President Lenin Moreno told top-selling Spanish daily newspaper El Pais.
“Mr. Assange has been in this situation for over five years and we have to find a way out for him. A way out that defends his rights, mainly his right to life, and which at the same time can give Ecuador the possibility to not have what, without a doubt, represents a problem for our country.”
Assange, 47, sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations, which he denies.
The Australian computer programmer claims the accusations were politically motivated and could lead to his extradition to the United States to face imprisonment over WikiLeaks’s publication of secret US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.
Swedish authorities dropped their investigations last year, but British authorities still want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions.
In March, Ecuador cut off Assange’s ability to communicate with the outside world after he broke a 2017 promise to not interfere in other countries’ affairs while in the mission.
Assange particularly drew the ire of Ecuador by angering the Spanish government with his support for separatist leaders in Spain’s Catalonia region who sought to secede last year.
Moreno, who visited Spain and Britain last week, said the “ideal” solution would involve Assange accepting a “penalty” for having breached British bail conditions and then be “extradited to a country where he does not face any danger.”


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 49 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.