Consumer prices edged up a tiny 0.1 percent in May as the biggest drop in energy costs in 14 months helped to offset a sharp jump in food prices, the government said June 15. The small advance in the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index was welcome news after a worrisome 0.4 percent April surge. The Clinton administration is hoping that an easing of inflationary pressures will convince the Federal Reserve that it has no need to boost interest rates. So far this year, consumer prices are rising at an a nnual rate of 3.5 percent, only slightly faster than last year's 2.9 percent rise. Many analysts believe that inflation will ease even further as the year progresses, reflecting the sub-par economic recovery and the absence of wage pressures. Haiti `reinstates' Aristide

The Haitian parliament on June 15 recognized the legitimacy of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and voted to let him choose Haiti's next prime minister. But the lawmakers fixed no date for the elected leader's return from exile and attached conditions that Aristide long has rejected, including an across-the-board amnesty for the Army that toppled him in September 1991.

Since the coup, Haiti's economy has been ravaged by a trade embargo imposed by the Organization of American States. The United States and others are working to further isolate the regime by imposing similar UN sanctions.

Germany's Somalia role

Germany's opposition Social Democrats challenged the deployment of German troops in Somalia June 15 by taking their complaint to the country's Constitutional Court. They demand the return of 262 troops already in Somalia and the blocking of a planned deployment of 1,700 troops. The deployments are unconstitutional, they argue, because Somalia is a case involving combat and not merely a humanitarian one. The court expects to rule on the matter in several days.

Cambodian prince flees

Cambodia's secessionist prince, Norodom Chakrapong, crossed into Vietnam June 15, a UN military spokesman said. Prince Chakrapong, a senior member of the Vietnamese-based Cambodian People's Party, declared an autonomous zone in eastern provinces bordering Vietnam in protest against alleged fraud in the UN-run election held in May. On June 14, Cambodia's newly elected National Assembly reaffirmed Chakrapong's father, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, as head of state. Malawi vote results

Initial unofficial returns June 15 from a referendum on the future of one-party rule in the tiny African nation suggested voters want a change to multiparty democracy, opposition leaders claimed.

The United Democratic Front, an opposition movement of former politicians from the ruling Malawi Congress Party, reported that, with a quarter of the ballots tallied, 72 percent favor political pluralism. Official returns are expected to be announced June 16. Azeri leader returns

Azerbaijan's ex-communist elder statesman Geidar Aliyev made an astonishing comeback to power June 15 when he was elected parliament chairman, local journalists said.

Mr. Aliyev, a former Soviet politburo member and first secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist party, has run the southwestern Azeri province of Nakhichevan since he was dismissed by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

After an armed uprising in the western city of Ganja 12 days ago, the increasingly unpopular President Abulfaz Elchibey bowed to the demands of rebels and called for talks.

Mr. Elchibey later offered the popular Aliyev the job of prime minister, which he turned down. Ex-Soviets nix army

The six former Soviet republics that make up the Commonwealth of Independent States June 15 formally abandoned plans to set up joint armed forces, Interfax news agency said.

Instead, the Commonwealth signatories including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan opted to form a looser coordination body by the end of the year.

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