News In Brief

Beleaguered Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak endured another key setback when his choice for the largely ceremonial post of president was defeated. Ex-Prime Minister Shimon Peres's long political career appeared over after parliament chose opposition Likud movement member Moshe Katzav for the post instead. But Barak was predicting he'd survive two no-confidence motions that legislators were debating as the Monitor went to press.

Another landslide victory gave President Hugo Chvez a new six-year mandate in Venezuela. His allies also appeared to be winning at least 14 of 23 state governorships, but were falling short of the two-thirds majority he sought in Congress to ensure rubber-stamp approval of all Cabinet appointees and nominations to the Supreme Court. With almost 90 percent of the vote counted, Chvez was riding the support of the poor to a 21-point lead over challenger Francisco Arias Cardenas. Business leaders, however, quickly called on him to keep his promise to end years of political upheaval and concentrate on steering the economy out of deep recession.

New urgency surrounded a previously scheduled meeting between Zimbabwe's white farmers union and President Robert Mugabe after the latter's government almost quadrupled the number of farms it plans to confiscate. State-owned television announced late Sunday the farms targeted for redistribution to landless blacks would rise from 804 to 3,000. White farmers plan to join a three-day national strike beginning tomorrow in protest against political violence and the seizures.

The 318-mile railroad that connects North and South Korea will be returned to service, negotiators for the two sides agreed. The line, which connects with Russia's trans-Siberian railroad, has been idle for 55 years. The South hopes to use it to ship exports to Europe. The negotiators also agreed to a new round of talks Aug. 29.

Using whips and tear gas, security forces in Ivory Coast drove off hundreds of demonstrators trying to deliver a petition to the French Embassy. Dozens were arrested. The demonstrators were supporters of opposition leader Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who appears to have been excluded as a presidential candidate under the new Constitution approved last week in a national referendum. It requires all candidates to be of Ivorian birth; Ouattara's parents reportedly were not Ivorian. A senior French official angered the African nation's ruling junta by arguing that no candidate should be "artificially excluded" from the presidency.

A final ruling is due today from Chile's Supreme Court on whether ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet will be stripped of immunity from prosecution. His lawyers appealed a May decision by a lower court that Pinochet, now elderly and ill, could be tried for alleged human rights abuses.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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