News In Brief

Three ex-military chiefs were summoned before Indonesia's parliament to explain their involvement in the campaign to crush separatist rebels in the province of Aceh. Analysts say the new government must show it is sincere about bringing to justice those responsible for massive human-rights abuses in the restive province if it is to ease the pressure for Acehnese independence. But as the summons were issued, a senior military spokesman said conditions in Aceh now justified the introduction of martial law.

Amid fireworks and billowing green smoke, Islamic leaders in the West Bank city of Nazareth removed a cover from the marble cornerstone of a controversial new mosque that has angered Christians. Permission to build the multistory structure was granted by the Israeli government over the objections of the Vatican because it is near the spot where the Virgin Mary learned she would bear Jesus. Christian churches across the Holy Land remained shut for a second straight day in protest. Construction is expected to be in progress when Pope John Paul II makes a scheduled visit to the area next year.

"Listen: Only you can win the peace," President Clinton told an audience of ethnic Albanians in a Kosovo gymnasium in a call for reconciliation with the dwindling number of Serbs who remain in the province. He used much of his address to recount the US role in the bombing of Yugoslav government targets that led to the return of hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees. Later, he visited American troops in Kosovo's international peacekeeping force, saying, "... your example will show them they do not have to be trapped in the pattern of slaughter."

A strategic Army base 135 miles from Sri Lanka's capital was being shelled heavily by Tamil separatist forces as they pressed their offensive. A Defense Ministry spokesman acknowledged three soldiers had died and that parts of the supply base were on fire but said the Army was "holding fine." Loss of the base at Talladi would be another major embarrassment for President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who seeks reelection Dec. 21 but whose troops have taken heavy losses in the past two weeks.

A decree that would have given women the right to vote and run for elective office in Kuwait was rejected by a 41 to 22 vote in the all-male parliament. But many legislators said they opposed Emir Sheikh Jabel al-Ahmed al-Sabah's order only on constitutional grounds because he issued it while parliament was not in session. Supporters then succeeded in introducing an almost identical measure and forcing it to the top of the legislative calendar for debate as soon as next Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of farmers, teachers, and peasants were expected to jam the capital of Ecuador for a one-day protest blaming President Jamil Mahuad for the nation's economic crisis and demanding his resignation. An organizer said Mahuad had "dedicated himself to helping bankers and businessmen" while ignoring the plight of less-well-off people. Spiraling inflation and massive unemployment have pushed Mahuad's job-approval rating to just 14 percent.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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