News In Brief

A German plan offering a 24-hour halt in airstrikes if Yugoslav President Solbodan Milosevic "starts" withdrawing his forces from Kosovo was being debated by Western diplomats. The bombing of Yugoslav targets would be "permanently suspended" once the pullout was complete. But NATO raised doubts that Milosevic could be trusted to honor the plan. Meanwhile, air raids intensified, centering on a key hydroelectric plant.

All but one of the seven presidential candidates in Algeria withdrew only hours before the polls were to open for today's election, throwing it into question. Only ex-Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the candidate presumed to be favored by the military, remained in the running, and it wasn't immediately clear whether voting would go forward. His challengers said they quit because promises that the election would be fair "have not been respected." They alleged fraud in permitting special early voting by soldiers, police, and customs agents.

As expected, Pakistan respond-ed to India's test-firing of a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear explosives by launching one of its own. The Ghauri II, with a range of 1,240 miles, can reach targets deep inside India. Published reports said each government notified the other in advance of the tests, in line with an agreement signed in February by their prime ministers.

An emergency meeting of the remaining parties in India's coalition government was called by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee after a key partner fulfilled a vow to withdraw its support and he faced demands that he resign. The loss of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Party's 19 seats in Parliament leaves Vajpayee vulnerable to a no-confidence vote. With AIADMK help, he survived such a motion by only 19 votes last year.

Calm was returning to the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, after a day of violent clashes between police and thousands of demonstrators protesting the conviction and sentencing of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. A court found him guilty of corruption and ordered him to prison for six years as his long confrontation with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reached its climax. In addition, the sentence bars him from holding public office for five years after his release.

Not only Congress, but also the Supreme Court should be shut down, new Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez argued on national TV, intensifying his showdown with the country's democratic institutions. He spoke a day after lawmakers appealed for international help in protecting democracy and the Supreme Court demanded he cease his "disrespectful and hostile attitude." Capitalizing on popular discontent with the country's political parties, Chvez has vowed to "build a true democracy." Venezuelans are to vote April 25 on whether they want a new Constitution.

By refusing to go along with a measure that would lower the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16, Britain's House of Lords put the Labour government in the position of invoking a little-used law to achieve its goal. The unelected chamber voted 222 to 146 to block a bill that has the overwhelming support of the more powerful House of Commons. It was the second time the House of Lords has rejected the proposal. The age of consent currently is 18.

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