News Currents

EUROPESoviet lawmakers July 1 passed privatization legislation envisioning half the country's factories free from state control within 18 months and guaranteeing workers the first chance to buy their plants from the government. The measure also gives foreigners the right to buy industrial enterprises for the first time since the 1920s.... In Poland, President Lech Walesa paved the way July 1 for the nation's first free postwar parliamentary election, to be held Oct. 27, as he reluctantly accepted a law he had failed to block. The communist-dominated lower house overruled his veto of the assembly's draft. Walesa said the bill's details would make it easier for incumbents to be reelected.... Italy's Foreign Minister, Gianni De Michelis, said July 2 the European Community should send cease-fire observers to Yugoslavia immediately, given reports that fresh fighting had broken out in the breakaway republic of Slovenia. The republics of Croatia and Slovenia have asked that the EC monitor a cease-fire with the Yugoslav Army. Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek said the request for observers would be raised during a Vienna meeting July 3 of the 35-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.... Bulgaria has promised a thorough investigation into lingering allegations it was involved in the attempted murder of Pope John Paul in 1981.

AFRICA The African National Congress was given a morale boost July 2 by a poll showing it would win 62 percent support among blacks in a South African general election. The Witwatersrand University survey of township opinion showed President F. W. de Klerk's National Party would win 12 percent support and the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party, the ANC's main black rival, would win 5 percent. In Durban, at the opening of the ANC's first legal conference in South Africa in 30 years, the dispute between the ANC and the government over political prisoners continued. The ANC claims 900 are still in prison, while the government says it has released them all.

MIDDLE EAST Algerian security forces had seized 800 Islamic militants in a nationwide clampdown by late July 1, 24 hours after the arrest of their two main leaders, Abbassi Madani and Ali Belhadj of the Islamic Salvation Front.... Battles erupted between Lebanese troops and Palestinian fighters in south Lebanon July 2 as government forces tried to push into guerrilla strongholds.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Australia has become the first country to accredit a diplomat to the Supreme National Council representing the four factions in Cambodia. Ambassador to Thailand Richard Butler will also be ambassador to the SNC and an embassy will be set up later in Phnom Penh.... Vietnamese boat people whose claims of political asylum were rejected by Malaysian screeners will soon return to their homeland, coordinators said July 2.

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