News In Brief

The army chief whose troops seized power in Pakistan accused ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of "systematically destroying" public institutions and the economy. Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf promised an announcement "very soon" of his plans for the future but gave no indication he would relinquish power soon. The cities generally were calm, except for some dancing in the streets at the toppling of an increasingly unpopular prime minister.

International condemnation of the coup was swift. In Washington, the State Department said "business as usual" with the Islamabad government was impossible until democracy was restored. The European Union, Russia, and Japan led calls for the return of the rule of law. The International Monetary Fund announced the immediate suspension of aid, which had resumed in January after being frozen the previous spring because of Pakistan's nuclearweapons tests.

With the Army on high alert because of the coup in Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee took the oath of office - his third in three years. Vajpayee said India's policy toward its nuclear rival was unchanged and that his government was willing to discuss peace with "any regime" there. But he was to convene an immediate security meeting on the situation. Vajapyee's two previous terms lasted 13 days and 13 months, respectively.

Admitting he needed military support to govern fractious Indonesia, President B.J. Habibie chose Gen. Wiranto, the armed forces chief, as his running mate for next week's election. But it was not immediately clear whether Wiranto would accept. Analysts say it's clear that he has high political ambitions of his own and, at the height of the East Timor crisis, some diplomats were calling him Indonesia's de-facto ruler.

Some of the most serious indictments in the history of Iranian politics were brought against reform-minded President Mohamad Khatami's closest ally. A special clerical court, meeting behind closed doors, charged ex-Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri with violating Islamic sanctities, publishing lies aimed at dividing public opinion, and advocating improved relations with the US and Israel. Nouri, who was forced from his post in 1997 by hard-line opponents of the president, is an influential newspaperman. Analysts said the hard-liners hope to sideline him before February's parliamentary elections.

Reversing its previous position, the government of Mexico said international aid for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by this month's massive floods would be welcome. But a Foreign Ministry spokes-man said no formal requests would be made. President Ernesto Zedillo drew heavy criticism for saying originally that "Mexicans can do it alone."

Talk-radio programs and letters-to-the-editor columns of newspapers in Grenada were filled with angry debate over the possibility that four men jailed for the island's 1983 coup might be pardoned on its anniversary Tuesday. The four apologized on TV last Sunday for their roles in overthrowing Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, who, with his Cabinet, was executed. But civilian rule was restored by a US military invasion backed by neighboring Caribbean states.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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