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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Noel Paul / December 22, 2000



The last vestiges of former President Slobodan Milosevic's power appeared likely to be swept away in tomorrow's elections for parliament in Serbia. Late opinion polls showed the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) alliance headed for an 80 percent to 15 percent landslide victory over Milosevic's Socialist Party. Such an outcome also would propel DOS leader Zoran Djindjic into the prime ministership. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who ousted Milosevic in the bitterly contested Sept. 24 national election, has no direct role in the Serbia vote.

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Three more inmates died in the effort by security forces to regain control of Turkish prisons in the grip of a massive hunger strike, bringing the number of casualties to 22. The government blamed the two-month-long "death fast" on leftist agitators who coerced hundreds of prisoners into participating. But critics said the crackdown was further tarnishing Turkey's image at a time when it's on notice to improve its human rights record to gain admission to the European Union.

The candidacy of senior statesman Shimon Peres for the leadership of Israel was on hold as the Monitor went to press - with the crucial backing he needed from a left-wing political party still not forthcoming. Instead, the Meretz Party was urging caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak to give Peres a major role in peace negotiations with the Palestinians should the former win reelection in next February's election.

In a new attempt to reverse the seizures of white-owned farms by militant black squatters in Zimbabwe, the nation's highest court ordered President Robert Mugabe's government to draft an alternative land-redistribution program within six months. The ruling followed a Nov. 10 judgement that the takeovers of more than 1,600 farms is unconstitutional. But Mugabe has ignored or done little to comply with earlier rulings and continues to target roughly 2,500 farms for reallocation to landless blacks.

Separatist rebels offered a unilateral month-long truce to the government of Sri Lanka, calling it a goodwill gesture to hasten peace negotiations. The cease-fire, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam said, would begin Christmas Eve. The move followed a meeting in Paris of aid donors to the island nation, at which President Chandrika Kumaratunga repeated a call for unconditional talks with the rebels. Late last month, rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran announced his willingness to meet for unconditional talks.

Eyeing a potential new $20 billion revenue stream, lawmakers in Russia's lower house of parliament easily gave their preliminary OK to a controversial bill authorizing the reprocessing of spent fuel rods from other countries' nuclear power plants. The bill must survive two more votes in the Duma and pass in parliament's upper house to become law. It is vehemently opposed by environmentalists, who say it would turn cash-strapped Russia into the world's nuclear waste dump.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society