News In Brief

Struggles for the microphone and scuffles between hard-liners and reformists broke out in the Iranian parliament after the country's supreme leader canceled debate over amending a restrictive press law. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the order by letter, forcing an indefinite suspension of the matter, which was a central campaign promise of the pro-reform majority. Under the current press law, 22 publications were closed down by the conservatives earlier this year.

Serbia's largest opposition party announced it would put forward a presidential candidate to challenge Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia's presidential election - a move that could actually strengthen Milosevic's bid by fracturing the competition. In nominating Belgrade's opposition mayor, Vojislav Mihailovic, the Serbian Renewal Movement party reversed an earlier decision to boycott the election. The Democratic Party of Serbia is expected to draw the rest of Serbia's opposition voters in the Sept. 24 vote.

Some 400 UN troops fanned out along the Lebanese-Israeli border Saturday, marking the final phase of an operation that was set into motion when the Jewish state ended its occupation of the area more than two months ago. Following the deployment, Lebanon was to send 1,000 soldiers and police officers to maintain law and order inside the formerly occupied zone, a government official said.

The situation remained tense in disputed Kashmir as a Pakistan-based rebel group claimed that two of its fighters stormed an Indian Army camp there and killed six soldiers. A frontline guerrilla group, meanwhile, accused the Indian Army of violating a cease-fire. Government officials also continued issuing statements on the situation, with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee blaming Pakistan for the recent killings of 102 people in Kashmir. Pakistan, for its part, urged India to hold three-way talks - which India has refused to do.

Prosecutors in Fiji indicated they'll ignore amnesty for coup leader George Speight, who held dozens of lawmakers captive for two months, and probably charge him with treason. The rebel and his key lieutenants were arraigned Saturday on other minor charges, to which they pleaded not guilty. They were ordered to reappear in court Sept. 1, although their lawyers will have an opportunity to seek bail at an interim hearing Friday.

Swirling floodwaters of the Brahmaputra River submerged the homes of more than 2 million people in northeast India, a government official said. State reports put the number of deaths at 75. Neighboring Bangladesh also was affected, with 15 people killed and tens of thousands left homeless, officials said. The floods were triggered by monsoon rains.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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