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Cyprus Cabinet Resigns Amid Public Outcry


View of the Vasilikos power station, destroyed on July 11 2011 in a blast of confiscated Iranian munitions stored at a nearby military base, July 21 2011

View of the Vasilikos power station, destroyed on July 11 2011 in a blast of confiscated Iranian munitions stored at a nearby military base, July 21 2011

A Cyprus government official says the country's Cabinet has agreed to step down at the request of President Dimitris Christofias.

A government spokesman, Stefanos Stefanou, says President Christofias asked his ministers to resign on Thursday as part of a broad reshuffle of the government. Stefanou says the 11 members of the Cabinet will remain in place until a new government is appointed.

Cyprus' defense and foreign ministers had already resigned and the junior partner in the coalition government (DIKO) has ordered its Cabinet ministers to step down after public outcry over a deadly munitions blast and a declining economy.

Cyprus is still reeling from a huge munitions explosion at a naval base earlier this month that killed 13 people, including the chief of the Cypriot navy.

The explosion also severely damaged a major power plant, causing electricity shortages to about half the country. Experts say it will take at least one year to fix at a cost of more than $1 billion.

The munitions were seized from an Iranian ship headed to Syria. Cyprus media say authorities knew the munitions were not being stored safely but failed to take precautions.

Also Wednesday, the Moody's credit rating agency downgraded Cypriot government bonds two levels and said the outlook for the country is negative.

Moody's cites what it calls the fiscal and economic conditions caused by the damaged power plant along with Cyprus' fractious political climate.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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