News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Stephanie Cook

With solid support in both houses of parliament, Yoshiro Mori was confirmed as Japan's new prime minister. Mori also was installed as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party; he had been its secretary-general, the No. 2 post. Meanwhile, his predecessor, Keizo Obuchi, remained on life-support measures in a Tokyo hospital and, aides said, would be unable to resume his duties. As expected, Mori announced he would keep Obuchi's entire Cabinet and would not attempt to change his initiatives in the effort to lift Japan out of its long recession.

Eleven American soldiers - the largest number of casualties in any one incident to date - were hurt in a violent, day-long confrontation with angry Serbs in a Kosovo mountain town. Reports said Sevce, near the border with Macedonia, was tense following the clash, which erupted when NATO peacekeepers confiscated two hand grenades from a Serb civilian. An estimated 150 others then surrounded the NATO troops, thwarting their efforts to arrest him. He fled in the confusion. Fourteen Serbs also were reported injured in the melee.

An appeal to protest in the streets if ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is found guilty of attempted murder and other charges today will not be heeded, his supporters said. But a spokesman for Sharif's political party, the Muslim League, said the organization would appeal a guilty verdict by a special terrorism court in Karachi, under which the former government chief could be sentenced to death. The call for demonstrations was made by Sharif's wife, Khulsoom, although she said she was "hopeful of getting justice." A previous military government executed deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979.

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Concern grew that a security vacuum could develop in Sierra Leone as the first of more than 4,500 intervention-force troops flew home. The Nigerian-led force is to be cut by half over the next two weeks, after which plans call for those remaining to be placed under UN command until replacements arrive around July 1. Many Sierra Leoneans have said they doubt the UN force can maintain the fragile peace, noting that its role is not described as one of enforcement. Tens of thousands of rebels have yet to hand over their weapons under last July's accord with the government.

Angry Haitians ransacked an elections commission office, burning voting materials and demanding that a regional director quit his post. Hours before, the same official's house was destroyed in a fire of suspicious origin. The attacks in a town 130 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, came two days after the murder of the country's leading radio newsman. At least 60 incidents of election-related violence have been reported since October. Voting for a new parliament already has been postponed twice and no new date has been set.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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