News In Brief

Embattled Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid was being whipsawed by supporters and the armed forces as he clung to power. Thousands of demonstrators in Jakarta, the capital, demanded that he dissolve parliament after its 365-to-4 vote Wednesday to hold impeachment hearings against him this summer. But senior military commanders warned him not to declare a state of emergency to prevent his ouster, although political analysts said such a move is "the only avenue left for him." Wahid is the first elected president of a nation that has no experience with impeachment. The protesters vowed to press still harder for their demands in rallies today.

Israel "cannot restrain itself indefinitely" amid ongoing acts of terror, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned after a new round of security discussions between his representatives and Palestinian officials made no reported headway. Sharon also was under pressure to "make war" by Jewish settlers in the West Bank because of the fourth fatal shooting by Palestinians in less than a week and the 24th since the current violence began last September.

Late opinion polls were making it difficult to forecast the outcome of Sunday's presidential runoff election in Peru, although populist front-runner Alejandro Toledo told interviewers he expected to win by 10 points. Some surveys gave him a lead of just 3 points; others showed him ahead of challenger Alan Garcia by as many as 13. Toledo won the first round of voting April 8, but failed to record an outright majority. Garcia served as president from 1985 to 1990.

Although not yet halfway through his term as president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika has told senior military commanders he is ready to quit over his failure to restore calm to the nation's volatile Kabylie region, an Arabic-language newspaper reported. Citing sources familiar with the situation, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat said the armed forces' chief of staff rejected Bouteflika's offer of resignation because "his departure would only make the situation worse." The report surfaced as an estimated 200,000 people demonstrated in the capital, Algiers, against alleged repression in Kabylie, where more than 300 ethnic Berbers have died or been wounded by security forces since mid-April.

Foreign women on humanitarian aid missions in Afghanistan were banned from operating motor vehicles by the Taliban religious movement. The announcement by the Foreign Ministry came a week after the Taliban ordered practicing Hindus under its jurisdiction to wear special identity labels on their clothing in public. The latest decree was explained only on grounds that female drivers are "against Afghan traditions" and have "a negative impact on the society."

Faisal Husseini, who died on fence-mending mission in Kuwait, was a key player in Middle East politics and longtime advocate of peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel. He helped to lead the Palestinian delegation to the 1991 Madrid conference on regional peace, ran Orient House, the unofficial Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem, appeared frequently on Israeli TV to promote the Palestinian cause, and was considered a possible successor to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat. He'd been meeting with Kuwaitis angry about Palestinian backing for Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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