News In Brief

Seven decades of uninterrupted rule hung in the balance as Mexicans voted for a new president. And, with the top two contenders in a virtual statistical tie in late opinion polls, it could be Wednesday before a definitive final vote is announced. Francisco Labastida of the Institutional Revolutionary Party was seeking to extend its hold on power by appealing to union workers, farmers, and the rural poor. His closest challenger, Vicente Fox, was drawing support from urban and middle-class voters. The most closely watched vote in modern Mexican history also was shaping up as the fairest, analysts said.

More than 2,000 Protestant Orange Order marchers made no effort to defy a ban on parading through a Catholic neighborhood in Portadown, Northern Ireland. But despite heavy security precautions, scores of Protestant youths provoked confrontations with police, throwing rocks and even a stepladder, as the annual marching season entered the countdown to its climax. Organizers said they expected up to 10,000 marchers next Sunday as the Orange Order nears the July 12 anniversary of 17th-century military victories over the Catholic forces of King James II.

White landowners in Zimbabwe were accused of setting up "fighting units" to defend their farms against takeovers by militant blacks. Broadcasts over state-owned radio said the police, who mostly ignored white pleas for protection against the militants this spring, would not allow "mobilization" of such forces to evict squatters. More than 800 farmers have been under a notice, which expires today, that their land will be confiscated by the state and redistributed to blacks. Several whites reported being threatened with death if they were still on their land by today.

With vote counting nearing completion, it was apparent that the vast majority of Ugandans had rejected a return to multiparty politics, elections officials said. Final results of last week's national referendum were to be announced as the Monitor went to press, but the officials said slightly more than 90 percent of voters favored continuing the "no party" system set up by President Yoweri Museveni after he seized power in 1986. Voter turnout was reported at 45 percent, leading organizers of a boycott to claim success.

"To ensure that nothing happens to them," special protection will be given to ethnic Indians appointed to Fiji's new government, a military spokes-man said. The junta, which declared martial law May 29, said it would announce the composition of the interim civilian administration by Wednesday. That was seen as an act of defiance against the armed rebels who seized Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 30 members of his government. Most of them remain hostages as the rebels seek to end Indian political power in the island nation.

As the search for a missing ferry with almost 500 people aboard was about to be called off in central Indonesia, the crew of a fishing boat found 10 survivors and the remains of a dead passenger. Many of those aboard were reported to be Christians fleeing the sectarian violence in the Molucca islands when contact with the vessel was lost last Thursday. The survivors said it was swamped by a powerful storm. The discovery caused the search to be extended three more days.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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