News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Stephanie Cook

With vote-counting from Sunday's election nearing completion, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori confronted new appeals to submit to a runoff with populist challenger Alejandro Toledo. The hard-line incumbent led Toledo by 49.6 percent of the vote to 40.4; 50 percent, plus one vote, is needed to win. An estimated 30,000 Peruvians rallied in Lima Tuesday, chanting, "The dictator will fall!" In Washington, the Clinton administration and key members of Congress warned Peru would become an international pariah if the vote was rigged.

In unusually blunt terms, a senior Israeli leader said his government would not be "steamrolled" by the US into canceling the sale of a sophisticated warplane to communist China. Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh spoke as Chinese President Jiang Zemin was arriving in Jerusalem for a historic official visit. Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a meeting with President Clinton in Washington Tuesday, was urged to void the transaction. Key members of Congress have threatened to deduct the price of the plane from US aid to Israel.

Neither of the major political parties in South Korea is expected to win an absolute majority in parliament as voters go to the polls today in a critical election. Analysts have called it a referendum on President Kim Dae-jung's 2-1/2-year-old administration, with his Millennium Democratic Party trailing the center-right Grand National Party (GNP) in late opinion surveys. The vote takes place against a backdrop of worker protests at the proposed sale of troubled Daewoo Motors to a foreign buyer and the announcement earlier this week of a June summit between Kim and North Korea's Kim Jong-il - the biggest diplomatic breakthrough between the rivals since 1945.

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Another key ally of reformist Iranian President Mohamad Khatami was incapacitated - this time in a car accident. Rajab-Ali Mazrouli heads Iran's Press Association, which has led the crusade against powerful religious hard-liners. He was seriously hurt in the crash. Last month, a prominent newspaper editor and Khatami adviser was shot by unidentified assailants.

Only a televised address to the nation by President Robert Mugabe will mark Zimbabwe's 20th anniversary of independence next week, his government announced. All other celebrations were canceled, and the money they would have cost will be used instead on relief for victims of February's floods, it said. The move followed the dismissal of parliament Tuesday in preparation for next month's expected national election - a vote that analysts say Mugabe's ZANU(PF) Party may well lose for the first time since 1980.

Weeks of political violence and rising tensions in Haiti produced a new date for all-important parliamentary elections. President Ren Prval said the thrice-postponed vote would be held May 21. Haiti has been without a parliament since Prval dismissed it in January 1999 and appointed a new premier and "electoral council" by decree. Opposition leaders have accused him of trying to derail the election until late this year so it could be held concurrently with the vote for president.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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