News In Brief

Urgent efforts were being made to try to keep the Northern Ireland peace process from sliding back into crisis amid reports that the province's main Protestant movement might cancel a meeting Saturday that was to decide whether to rejoin a home-rule government with Catholics. Senior Ulster Unionist Party sources complained that British authorities were making too many concessions to Catholic republicans. In turn, Catholic sources warned that the Irish Republican Army might withdraw its offer to put its weapons beyond use, The (London) Times reported.

In the most severe move to date against opposition news outlets, riot police in Serbia shut down the republic's influential Studio B television station and two radio stations using the same building. Authorities said the 2 a.m. raid was ordered because Studio B had "called for the violent overthrow" of President Slobodan Milosevic's government and was "inciting terrorism." In Vienna, the Organization for Security and Coopera- tion in Europe said the seizures appeared "aimed at destroying all independent media" in Serbia.

Street demonstrations erupted in Sierra Leone's capital at the news that notorious rebel leader Foday Sankoh had been captured by pro-government troops. Sankoh, who'd disappeared from Freetown more than a week ago, was being held under UN auspices at a "safe location" while officials decided what to do with him. But critics warned that his capture would complicate efforts to win the release of more than 300 UN peacekeepers still believed held by Sankoh's followers.

The first major appointee of new President Vladimir Putin was easily confirmed by Russia's parliament. Liberal economist Mikhail Kasyanov won a 325-to-55-vote endorsement for his promotion to prime minister by pledging that "We cannot ease the pace of reforms."

Accusations of bungling surfaced against the government of the Philippines after senior officials gave conflicting accounts of what Muslim rebel kidnappers wanted in return for freeing a seriously ill German hostage. Foreign Minister Domingo Siazon said the government had rejected a demand for $2 million in ransom, insisting instead on a "package deal" for the freeing of all 21 hostages the rebels are holding. But the government's chief negotiator in the crisis said no such demand had been made.

Colombian president Andrs Pastrana suspended plans for peace talks with the country's largest leftist rebel group after a bomb allegedly linked to the group killed two people. A leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia denied responsibility. The stalled peace negotiations added significance to deliberations in the US Senate, where a new $1.3 billion antinarcotics aid package to the country is being considered. Drug crops have been fueling the 36-year civil war.

Social Democrat Hipolito Mejia was claiming outright victory in the Dominican Republic's presidential elections. But with 90 percent of the vote counted as the Monitor went to press, he still was 0.40 percent short of the absolute majority needed to avoid a June 30 runoff.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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