News In Brief

as riot police outside kept rival activists apart, the highest legislative assembly in Indonesia opened the process of choosing the country's next president. First on the agenda was a vote on incumbent B.J. Habibie's speech of last week, offering a defense of his 16 months in office. It was widely expected that a majority of the 700 members would reject it, giving new life to the prospects of opposition candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri. Habibie also was dealt a blow when his choice for a running mate, Gen. Wiranto, the armed forces chief, declined to run.

Evidence that will decide whether ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is tried in a military or civilian court is being assembled, the junta that deposed him last week said. Among the allegations he may face: working against national security and conspiring to kill Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, the coup leader. The junta said Sharif is in good health, but declined to reveal where he's being held.

In an apparent about-face from his earlier stance on foreign involvement, Cambodian Premier Hun Sen OK'd a proposal that would allow the UN to participate in the genocide trials of former Khmer Rouge leaders after all. The proposal, by US Ambassador Kent Weidemann, calls for a five-judge tribunal - three from Cambodia and two appointed by the UN. At least one of the latter would have to agree with each verdict. Previously, Hun Sen said Cambodia would conduct the high-profile trials alone, dismissing the UN contention that the country's court system is too inexperienced and corrupt to meet international legal standards.

Revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo caused Serb leaders to decide on the formation of a self-defense corps, reports said. That followed the fatal shooting of a Serb in Pristina, the capital, Monday in another apparent reprisal for the anti-Albanian crackdown, which didn't end until the arrival of a NATO-led intervention force in June. NATO vowed to put more troops on the streets to maintain order. But it had no immediate response to the Serb move. Estimates of the number of Serbs remaining in Kosovo range from 20,000 to 100,000.

Approval is expected Friday of a new UN resolution that would send 6,000 peacekeepers to war-torn Sierra Leone. Security Council members are to vote on a mission whose initial mandate would be six months. The UN troops would help disarm and demobilize the combatants, who signed an accord July 7 to end eight years of civil war. But overall security will be the responsibility of a Nigerian-led West African intervention force.

The outspoken chief of TV and radio broadcasting in Hong Kong was relieved of her duties and will be reassigned to an unrelated post, the government said. Cheung Man-yee was under fire for her criticism of the communist regime in Beijing, although officials denied that her reassignment was politically motivated. Hong Kong's opposition Democratic Party called the move "the beginning of the end of free speech" in the territory.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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