UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali visited a refugee camp in western Cambodia and held talks with senior United Nations officials yesterday.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a massive repatriation program at the end of last month. There are some 370,000 Cambodian refugees in Thai camps; more than 2,000 have returned home from Thailand under the UNHCR program to date.
Mr. Boutros-Ghali is due to attend a meeting of Cambodia's Supreme National Council in the capital of Phnom Penh today at which leaders of the country's four rival factions will sign important UN conventions on human rights.
The UN chief also flew to Battambang, the country's second largest city, and reviewed elite Malaysian rangers sent to Cambodia as part of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia. The UN is deploying a massive peacekeeping force in Cambodia under the terms of the pact and by the end of next month there should be around 22,000 troops and civilians in Cambodia. Taiwanese march for democratic reforms
More than 10,000 people marched in heavy rain through cities across Taiwan yesterday to demand direct presidential elections, the release of jailed dissidents, and other democratic reforms.
In Taipei, nearly 10,000 dissidents, students, monks, and other members of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) called for the resignation of Premier Hau Pei-tsun as they paraded through the city center.
Smaller demonstrations of several hundred people took place in the southern city of Kaohsiung, the western port of Taichung, and elsewhere on the island.
"Direct presidential elections are the only hope for this country to become a democracy," said DPP deputy Chang Chun-hong, leading the 2.5 mile long procession of banner-waving, gong-beating protesters in Taipei.
Demonstrators also demanded the repeal of anti-sedition laws and the release of several dissidents arrested for demanding that Taiwan declare independence and abandon its official goal of reunification with China.
The government has condemned the DPP's call for independence as illegal and threatened to punish the party by dissolving it.
The demonstrations marked the start of a three-day program of street protests called by the DPP, to pressure the National Assembly into stepping up democratic reforms. The opposition DPP lost heavily in the Dec. 21, 1991 parliamentary elections and continues outnumbered in parliament.
The National Assembly began a 70-day extraordinary session on March 20 to revise the Constitution and complete a process of reform that began with the lifting of martial law in 1987.
But the ruling Nationalist Party outraged the DPP by shelving a motion to introduce direct presidential elections because of opposition by conservatives in the ruling party.
The president is currently elected by the National Assembly, and the next elections are due in 1996. China's population tops 1.1 billion
China's population reached 1.158 billion at the end of 1991 and this year may see a new baby boom in the world's most populous country, the official New China News Agency said yesterday.
China's strict birth control policies kept 1991 population growth under state-set limits in all cities and provinces except Tibet and the southwestern region of Guangxi, according to State Statistical Bureau figures.
Nearly 1.25 million fewer Chinese were born in 1991 than in 1990, the bureau added.
Officials at the State Family Planning Commission are warning that China still faces a serious population problem this year: 123 million Chinese women are entering their prime child-bearing age of 23 to 29, an increase of 16 percent over the 1985-90 period.
China vigorously promotes a "one-child-per-family" policy in most regions across the country, punishing those who have more children by withholding state subsidies from the regions.