News In Brief

Tear gas fired by riot police penetrated the hall in Nice, France, where leaders of the European Union were opening their most difficult summit in years. The meeting began with the ceremonial signing of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, a document setting out civil, political, and other freedoms for the bloc's 375 million people. But outside, anti-globalization rioters smashed or spray-painted graffiti on storefronts, set fire to a bank, and fought with police. At least 20 people were reported hurt.

With tens of thousands of demonstrators massed outside, the impeachment trial of Philippines President Joseph Estrada opened in Manila and quickly triggered a slide in stock prices and the value of the peso. Estrada was not present as prosecutors began their case against him before the Senate by displaying a check they said he used to buy a luxury home for a woman who is not his wife.

Despite calls in the UN for tough new economic sanctions against Afghanistan, its ruling Taliban movement said no degree of pressure would force it to surrender suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden for trial in the West. Russia joined the US in circulating a draft resolution in the Security Council calling for a weapons embargo, among other measures. But, in repeating oft-expressed refusals to hand over Bin Laden, a senior Taliban official called him "a guest" and an "upholder of the holy war."

Government officials were negotiating with the opposition party of ex-Ivory Coast Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara to try to win a call for calm with the disputed election for a new parliament scheduled for Sunday. After two days of street protests over Ouattara's exclusion from the ballot, followers in his Muslim strongholds reportedly were ordering government representatives to leave. At least 18 people died in the violence.

Long lines of voters waited under a broiling sun in Ghana to choose the successor to 19-year President Jerry Rawlings. The election, in which a new parliament also will be selected, was being called a rare opportunity in Africa for an opposition party to win power democratically. Rawlings's would-be successor, Vice President John Atta Mills, was saddled with a declining economy and faced a chief rival, John Kufuor, who finished a close second in the presidential balloting four years ago.

In a presidential runoff election Sunday that even Romania's main newspapers weren't previewing on their front pages, ex-government chief Ion Iliescu appeared likely to return to power over ultraright rival Corneliu Vadim Tudor, who's known for his antiminority rhetoric. Late opinion polls gave Iliescu, a former Communist, a 69 percent to 31 percent lead. At least one editor said his publication was suppressing its election coverage to try to undercut Tudor's prospects.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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