News In Brief

In a state of the nation address for Indonesia, a contrite President Abdurrahman Wahid apologized to disgruntled lawmakers and asked for more time to get the nation back on its feet. Although his speech was short on specifics, he pledged to revamp his discredited Cabinet and show no tolerance to separatists - yet implement special autonomy for the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya. The address won only lukewarm applause from lawmakers, who have claimed his 10 months in office have been marked by a lack of leadership and unilateral policy decisions on controversial issues.

Trying to allay criticism about the pace of South Korea's economic reform, President Kim Dae Jung reshuffled his Cabinet. Eight out of 19 posts were affected, with one of the key moves being the appointment of a new finance and economic minister: Jin Nyum, whose career spans almost four decades under five successive administrations. The reorganization wasn't expected to affect the government's warming relations with North Korea.

A day after Serbia's largest opposition party announced a presidential candidate to challenge Slobodan Milosevic, 15 other opposition parties formally nominated their separate choice. Vojislav Kostunica, head of the Democratic Party of Serbia, scored better in a recent opinion survey than Milosevic. But many oppositionists are concerned that the lack of a unified front will spell defeat for them in the Sept. 24 elections. Sunday, the Serbian Renewal Movement nominated Vojislav Mihajlovic, Belgrade's opposition mayor, as its candidate.

The search was still on, but police in Georgia failed to make a breakthrough in locating three Red Cross workers. The employees - an Italian woman, a French woman, and a local driver - were last seen Friday while on the way to the Pankisi Gorge, where thousands of Chechen refugees are staying, the Geneva-based organization said. Searchers found the group's car near the border with Chechnya Saturday. Hostage-taking and kidnapping for ransom have occurred frequently in mountainous Georgia, where government control over some parts of the country is weak.

Tensions heightened between Bangladesh's government and oppositionists, who have been calling for general elections ahead of the 2001 schedule. A spokesman for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the country's biggest opposition group, said at least 100 protesters were arrested Sunday during a rally in the capital of Dhaka. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, estimated at 500, witnesses said. Oppositionists, who blame the government for alleged economic failures, harassment of political rivals, and corruption, called for a six-hour strike across the country today.

The acting career of Sir Alec Guinness, who died Saturday in West Sussex, England, spanned more than 60 years and included everything from Shakespearean classics to spy dramas to "Star Wars." Known for his subtlety and intelligence on screen - and for his reluctance to take on the role of a superstar - he received an Oscar in 1957 for his role as a colonel in "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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