News In Brief

The first combat troops of the multinational intervention force for East Timor were to arrive at dawn today. They were preceded to the troubled province by their commander, Australian Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove, who met with Indonesian Army commanders to establish ground rules for deployment. Cosgrove pledged that Timorese people on either side of the independence divide would once again be "free of threat."

Last-minute differences pushed the signing of an agreement on demobilizing the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to midnight Sunday, reports said. But sources in the NATO-led peacekeeping force said they could not confirm the ceremony would be held that soon. The deal calls for the ethnic-Albanian KLA to be transformed into a civilian corps, only a fraction of whose members would be authorized to carry pistols. Some KLA commanders were holding out for a larger and better-armed force in case Serb units ousted from Kosovo attempted to return.

Leftist guerrilla groups were being blamed for the worst violence to date since voting began in India's five-phase national election. In the northeastern state of Bihar, 44 people died in a series of land-mine explosions despite heavy security. Meanwhile, exit polls indicated that on the basis of voting so far, the Hindu nationalist coalition government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee would return to power despite the challenge of the opposition Congress Party.

A take-it-or-leave-it proposal handed to Secretary-General Kofi Annan dimmed hopes that the UN would participate in a genocide tribunal for Cambodia's Khmer Rouge leaders. Premier Hun Sun refused to compromise on his position that a tribunal headed by a majority of foreign judges - and with a UN-appointed chief prosecutor - would violate Cambodian sovereignty. He said his government would conduct a trial with or without UN participation. Critics say Cambodia's judicial system is too prone to political influence to conduct a fair trial.

Using tear gas and water cannon, riot police broke up a huge protest in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by supporters of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The rally by an estimated 10,000 people was the largest against the government since street demonstrations last September led to Anwar's arrest. His trial for sodomy is to resume today; in April he was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of corruption. He says he was framed on both counts. Police already have admitted to beating him in custody, and he's now undergoing medical tests after accusing his enemies of trying to poison him.

With government troops, police, and UN peacekeepers providing security, the twice-postponed voting for president finally got under way in the impoverished Central African Republic. Reports said election day generally was peaceful, as nine candidates vied to succeed Ange-Felix Patasse, who was seeking a second six-year term. The most recent of the postponements, Sept. 11, was caused by a "shortage of election materials." But on the same day two Patasse supporters died when a rally they were attending was attacked by followers of ex-President Andre Kolingba, one of the nine challengers.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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