News In Brief

A candidate who entered the race only two weeks ago was to be sworn in promptly as Indonesia's new president. Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, stunned much of the nation by edging populist favorite Megawati Sukarnoputri, 373 to 313 in a secret ballot by delegates to the People's Consultative Assembly. Wahid accepted the nomination of his National Awakening Party Oct. 8 after earlier appearing to be Megawati's strongest political ally. She stood grim-faced and silent as Wahid said they'd try together to calm tens of thousands of her angry followers in Jakarta, the capital.

At least one person died, apparently from a car-bomb explosion, as Megawati supporters clashed with riot police in Jakarta's streets after the vote. As night fell, security forces were firing tear gas and warning shots and moving water cannon into position. But the protesters were responding with barrages of rocks and firebombs. The Jakarta Convention Center was reported ablaze.

The powerful military welcomed Wahid's victory and suggested that chief of staff Wiranto would seek the vice presidency after all, if asked. The general earlier declined outgoing President B.J. Habibie's invitation to serve as his running mate. The vote for vice president is scheduled for today. Habibie abandoned his candidacy at the 11th hour after his ruling Golkar Party withdrew its support when he lost a vote of confidence in the assembly over his performance in office.

Word spread slowly to East Timor, where almost no one has a TV or radio, that Indonesia's legislators had formally given the troubled territory its independence. But separatist leader Xanana Gusmao, waiting in Australia to return home, thanked the consultative assembly for its vote.

The identity of a young airline hijacker remained unknown after he gave himself up to police in Hamburg, Germany. A police spokesman said the man, who used a knife to commandeer an EgyptAir jet en route from Istanbul to Cairo, might be Iraqi. He demanded to be flown to London, but the plane lacked sufficient fuel for a trip of that length. A copilot was injured in the incident.

Late opinion polls were projecting a possible first-round victory for opposition candidate Fernando de la Rua in Sunday's presidential election in Argentina. The mayor of Buenos Aires was favored by 44 percent of respondents, to 30 percent for ruling Peronist Party candidate Eduardo Duhalde, the governor of Buenos Aires province. To avoid a runoff Nov. 14, a candidate must win at least 45 percent of the vote - or 40 percent with a 10-point lead over the nearest rival. Incumbent Carlos Menem is barred from seeking a third straight term.

In a major embarrassment for law-enforcement authorities in France, convicted war-crimes figure Maurice Papon fled the country rather than be jailed for his role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps. The onetime Vichy-regime police official did not divulge his destination, but one of his attorneys suggested he might have gone to Jersey or Guernsey in Britain's Channel Islands. The Paris government placed no limits on Papon's travels following his conviction last year and did not take away his passport.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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