News In Brief

With the opposition Labor Party agreeing to become a partner in his unity government, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon opened negotiations to try to lure in right-wing nationalist and religious parties as well. Chief among them: the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, which has 17 seats in parliament. Under prodding by elder statesman Shimon Peres (above), who'd become foreign minister under Sharon, Labor's central committee voted late Monday to join the government. But, reflecting bitter internal divisions, fewer than half of the 1,700 members cast ballots.

New doubts about the sincerity of the Irish Republican Army in the peace process in Northern Ireland were raised by Protestant leaders after a senior IRA activist warned that his movement's war against imperialism "is not over." Protestant First Minister David Trimble called on his self-rule government's Catholic coalition partner, Sinn Fein, to repudiate the speech last weekend by Brian Keenan, the IRA's supposed chief negotiator on surrendering weapons. The IRA continues to observe a self-declared truce, but Keenan said "the revolution can never be over" until Ireland is united on his movement's terms.

Authorities were considering whether to declare a state of emergency on the Indonesian island of Borneo, where ethnic violence has raged since Feb. 18. More homes of Madurese migrants were in flames Tuesday, despite police efforts to seize the weapons of rival Dayak tribesmen. Reports also surfaced of an attack late Sunday by Dayaks on a lightly protected convoy of Madurese seeking evacuation, resulting in at least 118 deaths.

A "phased" reduction of the buffer zone between Kosovo and Serbia was being hailed as a victory by the government of new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. The reduction, agreed to by NATO foreign ministers, will permit wider latitude by Serbian security forces against self-proclaimed ethnic Albanian liberation army units seeking to unite Kosovo with a valley in southern Serbia dominated by other Albanians. The three-mile-wide zone was set up in 1999 under a deal between NATO and Kostunica's hard-line predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic, to keep the sides apart.

Moves to force the white chief justice of Zimbabwe into early retirement appeared successful, amid reports that he'll leave the bench today rather than June 30 under his own timetable. Anthony Gubbay "backtracked" on a deal to ease into retirement via a four-month leave of absence, the state-owned Herald newspaper said. He and other Supreme Court justices are accused of serving the interests of the nation's white minority. His likely interim successor: a black judge considered to be an ally of President Robert Mugabe.

HAVAKUK LEVISON/REUTERS

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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