News In Brief

A defiant President Robert Mugabe said he wouldn't order black squatters in Zimbabwe to leave the white-owned farms they've seized. Mugabe, returning from an international conference in Cuba, said he'd ignore a court ruling late last week that police must evict the squatters on about one-quarter of the 4,500 farms. Meanwhile, police were accused of doing nothing to help a white farmer who sought their protection 75 miles east of the capital, Harare. The man later was shot to death by blacks, and four others who tried to come to his aid were beaten.

A major shift in Northern Ireland politics appeared imminent amid reports that the main Protestant party planned to cut or at least reduce the influence of the hard-line Orange Order, famous for its controversial marches through Catholic neighborhoods. Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader David Trimble said he intends to abolish the 80,000-member order's ability to vote as a bloc in party affairs - a move that would give him more flexibility in future negotiations with the province's Catholics. The Orange Order sends 120 delegates to the UUP council and has been a vehement opponent of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

Police followed the tear-gassing and beatings of antigovernment protesters in Malaysia with scores of arrests, among them a senior leader of the opposition Parti Keadilan Nasional. The move came after supporters of jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim rallied in the streets of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on the first anniversary of his arrest. Their demonstration was met with massive force by security police, although far fewer than the projected 5,000 protesters turned out. The protest was intended to show that Anwar, sentenced to six years in prison for corruption, remains a popular figure.

There were few doubts that a controversial referendum in Ukraine would give President Leonid Kuchma the power he sought to exert greater control over parliament, which he accuses of blocking his reform agenda. The binding plebiscite, opposed by leftists who accuse Kuchma of aspiring to be a dictator, sets out numerous conditions under which he can disband the legislature and strip its members of their immunity from prosecution.

An official investigation was promised after a series of unexplained explosions at Congo's main airport killed at least 40 people and injured 216 others, many of them seriously. The blasts Friday collapsed a hangar at the facility in Kinshasa, the capital, and caused all international flights to be canceled over the weekend. The blasts reportedly involved a fuel and an ammunition depot, both of them close to the hangar.

Gas canisters thrown into a jammed Lisbon nightclub by unidentified assailants at 4:30 a.m. Sunday caused a stampede, killing seven people and injuring at least 65 others. It appeared carefully planned; electricity to the club was cut seconds before. No motive was immediately clear, although the club was popular with Africans from Portugal's former colonies.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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