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Merkel rival bids to reinvigorate election campaign  HANOVER: Chancellor Angela Merkel's challenger for power in next year's German election will seek to re-energise his campaign Sunday after a cash-for-speeches affair that threatened to torpedo his chances.   Delegates from the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) will officially hand Peer Steinbrueck, 65, a former finance minister, the unenviable task of toppling the popular Merkel, often called the world's most powerful woman.   Three months ago, party leaders nominated Steinbrueck as their candidate to challenge the conservative Merkel in elections expected on September 22 but his campaign has since misfired amid wave after wave of bad press.   He has struggled to get his challenge off the ground since revelations that he pocketed some 1.25 million euros ($1.63 million) in fees for making speeches at private functions and media described his speech Sunday as a defining moment.   "Steinbrueck needs a speech that people will later say began it all. The upturn in fortunes. The win in ...

Morsi backs down in Egypt crisis after army ultimatum  CAIRO: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi backed down Saturday in a political crisis marked by weeks of street protests, after the powerful army gave an ultimatum to him and the opposition to hold talks.   But the initial signs were that his concession would not satisfy an increasingly fierce opposition.   The leader annulled a controversial decree issued last month that put his decisions beyond judicial review -- a move denounced as a dictatorial "power grab" by the opposition, but ...

Storm Bopha returns to Philippines  MANILA: Heavy rain brought flooding fears in the north of the storm-battered Philippines as Typhoon Bopha returned Sunday, days after slamming into the south of the country and leaving almost 1,400 dead or missing.   While the powerful typhoon had weakened to a tropical storm, it was still causing downpours in the north even as hundreds in the south struggled to recover from its fury, said civil defence chief Benito Ramos.   "It will bring rain, not so much ...

Sri Lanka COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's chief justice has been found guilty of three charges in impeachment proceedings by a parliamentary panel, a government official said on Saturday.   It was not immediately clear if Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka's first female head of the Supreme Court, has to step down effectively from now or has to wait until parliament debates the impeachment investigations in January.   "We have found her guilty of three charges out of the first five we have investigated," ...

Italy ROME: Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday ended weeks of speculation and announced he would run again for Italy's prime minister, the post he was forced out of a year ago.   The billionaire politician has called a meeting of his PDL party for Sunday and has also opened talks with former coalition allies the Northern League to try to agree on backing a single candidate.   "I am running to win," the leader of the right-wing populist People of Freedom ...

Mandela admitted to hospital for tests  JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria Saturday to undergo tests and was said to be doing well, the South Africa government said.   The 94-year-old former president and anti-apartheid icon was admitted for tests "consistent with his age", the office of President Jacob Zuma said.   The government insisted there was "no cause for alarm".   Zuma spokesman Mac Maharaj, once a fellow prisoner with Mandela, told AFP that while the tests were "not routine", they were ...

Mandela admitted to hospital for tests: office JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela was on Saturday admitted to a hospital for tests consistent with old age and is doing well, the office of South Africa's president, Jacob Zuma, announced.   "Former President Nelson Mandela has today, 8 December 2012, been admitted in hospital in Pretoria to undergo tests," Zuma's office announced. Mandela "is doing well and there is no cause for alarm," it added.   The ageing statesman, who turned 94 in July, has grown frail and has not ...


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.309 bln
Exports $1.957 bln
Imports $4.266 bln
WeeklyDecember 18, 2014
Reserves $14.04 bln