News In Brief

By unanimous vote, Israel's Cabinet OK'd the withdrawal of troops from southern Lebanon "by July" - unilaterally if necessary. The Cabinet said Israel's forces would redeploy "on the border" with Lebanon to "secure the safety of northern towns." It also said the government would "act to ensure" that the pullout will be within the framework of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's hoped-for peace accord with Syria. But if no deal is reached, the Cabinet said it then would discuss how to implement the withdrawal.

Tough language on China's attitude toward Taiwan was sharpened further by a prominent general, who said his forces would attack if the island's leaders dared to move toward independence. Zhang Wannian picked up where Premier Zhu Rongji left off in addressing the opening of the National People's Congress. Zhu repeated the government's recent complaint that it was tired of waiting for Taiwan's leaders to negotiate unification. He stopped short of threatening military action. But General Zhang said, "Taiwan independence means war." Voters on the island are to elect a new president March 18, and none of the candidates supports unification on Beijing's terms.

Opponents of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet protested bitterly as he appeared surprisingly vigorous on his return to Chile. Pinochet was given a hero's welcome Friday by the military forces he once commanded, angering demonstrators in Santiago, the capital. A new civil suit was filed against him Saturday for human rights abuses during his years in power, bringing the total to 61. But critics said a trial would be hard to imagine because he first would have to be stripped of immunity from prosecution and such a move would likely anger the military. Britain sent Pinochet home on grounds he was physically and mentally incapable of standing trial.

Some armed black squatters yielded to a government ultimatum to vacate white-owned farms in Zimbabwe. But although they faced the threat of forced removal by police, still other blacks seized additional property. No removal efforts were reported as yet, however. A white farmers' union spokes-man said the number of properties affected has reached 142.

Despite thousands of complaints, Thailand's first Senate election was being called a major step toward full-fledged democracy. The turnout appeared to be in the unprecedented range of 70 percent of eligible voters to fill 200 seats from a field of 1,521 candidates. But police estimated at least $540 million was spent illegally buying votes, ensuring victory for such unintended winners as suspected underworld leaders and wives of Cabinet ministers. Previously, senators were appointed.

For the fourth time, crucial elections for parliament in Haiti were postponed, with no indication when they'll be rescheduled. Officials said the new delay was because of problems with voter registration. But opposition leaders accused the government of deliberate tactics to cause the vote to coincide with December's presidential election. President Rene Preval has ruled by decree since disbanding parliament Jan. 12, 1999, causing the impoverished nation to forfeit millions of dollars in international aid.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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