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News In Brief

By Robert KilbornJudy Nichols, and Joshua S. Burek / May 30, 2000



Rock-throwing Lebanese were returning to work after a weekend of violent protests at the border with Israel injured at least three people. Soldiers again were enforcing a policy requiring visitors to obtain special permits for travel to the area vacated last week by Israeli troops and their Lebanese proxy militia. And Hizbullah guerrillas set up roadblocks to keep the curious away. Meanwhile, to speed UN verification that it has fully withdrawn from the former protection zone, Israel blew up a border outpost. But a court in Tel Aviv put off until mid-July a decision on whether to free two Lebanese prisoners whose release Hizbullah has demanded as a condition for ending hostilities against Israel.

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The self-rule coalition government of Northern Ireland is to resume operation again today after the province's largest Protestant movement OK'd the renewing of cooperation with Catholics. But as leaders from both sides held preparatory talks in Belfast, there were warnings that "this is our last chance" to make the power-sharing system work. The Ulster Unionist Party vote Saturday to resume participation was by a narrow 459-to-403 margin, and analysts said leader David Trimble needs early proof that the outlawed Irish Republican Army is delivering on a promise to put its weapons "beyond use." The Protestant-Catholic coalition ran Northern Ireland for only 72 days before it was suspended in February. (Story, page 7; editorial, page 10.)

A new five-year term for controversial Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori appeared virtually certain as ballot-counting from Sunday's runoff election passed the halfway point. He had 50.3 percent of the vote, to 16.2 percent for challenger Alejandro Toledo, who boycotted the election and called for his supporters to do the same. Reports said the remaining 33 percent of the ballots were spoiled or left blank, and an estimated 17 percent of voters did not go to the polls. Toledo dismissed the early returns as a "farce," and international monitors called the election undemocratic.

Saying he hopes to bring "peace and stability" to Fiji, its military chief declared martial law. Commodore Frank Bainimarana claimed power from President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara after followers of rebel coup leader George Speight ransacked a TV station and allegedly killed a policeman. Negotiations to free hostages held by Speight broke down after he refused to drop his demands for constitutional changes that would favor indigenous Fijians over ethnic Indians.

Poland's prime minister tried to save a fragile majority coalition by rejecting resignations from key Cabinet ministers. Five Freedom Union (UF) members quit the Solidarity-led government, citing Jerzy Buzek's inability to win support for economic reforms deemed crucial for Poland's planned entry into the European Union by 2003. Market-oriented UF leaders say they'll resume the tenuous alliance if Buzek resigns, a move he has considered.

Female activists literally jumped for joy in Kuwait, where an administrative judge ruled they could take their case for full political rights to the sheikhdom's highest court. The move is the farthest women have progressed in their 40-year campaign for the right to vote and seek elective office. Last May, Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahman al-Sabah granted them political equality, but parliament overturned his decree in November. Kuwaitis may not appeal directly to the high court.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society