News In Brief

The future viability of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico was questioned by political analysts after last Sunday's election ousted it from the presidency and stripped its majority in the Senate as well as control of the last large-city government it still held. On the other hand, the election of right-wing populist Vicente Fox to the presidency caused an immediate 6.1 percent jump in Mexico's main stock index and sent the peso to its highest level against the US dollar - 9.57 - since early June.

Another step closer to the declaration of statehood this year was taken by the Palestine Liberation Organization's policymaking Central Council. Late Monday, the council voted to give Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat the power to proclaim independence "by the end of" the Sept. 13 transitional period for the conclusion of a final peace agreement with Israel. Officials said, however, that did not necessarily mean Arafat's declaration would come on the 13th. Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said such a proclamation would be meaningless without his government's approval and warned that, without it, Palestinians would not be allowed to travel through Israeli territory between the West Bank and Gaza.

An apparent rebellion by disgruntled Army troops had the capital of Ivory Coast on edge, despite senior commanders' claims that the situation was under control. "It is still not over," the information minister said after the mutineers demanded bonuses of $9,000 each and other favors for their role in last December's coup. Abidjan's commercial center was virtually deserted amid automatic weapons fire and the seizing of civilian vehicles.

Civilians were caught in a crossfire between Army troops and rebels who control the parliament compound in Fiji. Five people were reported wounded in the incident, which was blamed on inexperienced soldiers. The shooting followed the swearing-in of new Prime Minister Laisemia Qarase, who, although he is an ethnic Fijian, is rejected by the rebels. The six-week-old crisis also appeared to spread to a second island, Vanua Levu, where rebel sympathizers reportedly seized an Army base.

The truce that had allowed peace negotiations and a new election collapsed in the Solomon Islands. The use of force, the Malaita Eagles movement said, was the only way to bring rival Isatubu militiamen back to the bargaining table. The latter have rejected the election, which resulted in a new prime minister, claiming it was held under duress since armed Malaitans patrolled the streets of Honiara, the capital.

It appeared to be back to square one for female activists in Kuwait after the sheikhdom's highest court rejected four cases they had filed seeking full political rights. The all-male court cited procedural flaws in declining to hear the cases, which were submitted in March after parliament refused to grant women the vote. At least one activist said she hoped to file a new case next week.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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