News In Brief

It would be "simply insufferable" for Syrian troops to move into south Lebanon once Israel vacates its security zone there, a senior Jerusalem government official said. Communications Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a retired general, was reacting to a declaration by Lebanon's defense chief that the Syrians could be asked to accompany his forces into the area after Israel withdraws, presumably by July. Such a move would put Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial capital, "within the range of Syrian missiles," Ghazi Zueiter said. Syria's foreign minister later disavowed the suggestion, and Zueiter said his remark had been taken out of context.

"Overwork" was blamed for the hospitalization of Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, and leaders of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) were meeting to discuss the situation. The junior partner in Obuchi's three-party coalition announced it was leaving his government, which was busy dealing with a major eruption of the Mount Usu volcano on Hokkaido island, and the prime minister is due to serve as host of the Group of Eight meeting in July.

Calm returned to the streets of Zimbabwe's capital after a day of violent clashes between supporters and opponents of controversial President Robert Mugabe. Police reportedly stopped trying to prevent a legal protest by about 4,000 anti-Mugabe demonstrators, then stood by as hundreds of veterans of the country's war for independence attacked them with whips, clubs, and bricks, and finally used tear gas to break up the melee. At least 15 people were seriously hurt. In Cairo, a conference of European Union and African delegates focusing on democracy and development was resisting British efforts to discuss the incident, which the London government accused Mugabe of orchestrating.

An estimated 100,000 demonstrators marched through Birmingham, England, Saturday to protest the sale of the city's Rover auto assembly plant by its German owner, BMW. The protest was perhaps the largest of its type in Britain in two decades. The sale is expected to cost at least 4,500 workers at the money-losing plant their jobs. But estimates put the number of Britons likely to be affected by the layoffs at 50,000.

Thirty-two Russian special police, missing after a rebel ambush in southern Chechnya late last week, were found dead. Searchers said one of those unaccounted for in the attack was alive, but six others still were missing. Russia's defense minister blamed the casualties on poor discipline in the command structure in Chechnya. The ambush of a convoy on a rugged mountain road was the latest in a series demonstrating the vulnerability of Russian forces despite claims that virtually all the breakaway region now is under their control.

His political opponents are alleging ballot-box fraud because "they fear we will win on April 9," Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori said. He also reacted angrily to warnings by the Organization of American States observer mission that it could not rule out refusing to recognize the election as valid because "conditions for a democratic vote do not exist." Last week, senior military leaders said they also wouldn't recognize a Fujimori victory. Although he remains popular with many Peruvians, the Constitution bars him from seeking another term.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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