News In Brief

Saying, "it's worse than ever," elections monitors in Yugoslavia reported major irregularities in the voting for president. Poll-watchers said voters were not afforded privacy to mark their ballots, were issued ballots that easily could be seen through even after being folded, or simply were denied entry. Incumbent Slobodan Milosevic appeared relaxed despite opinion polls showing him an average of 10 percentage points behind chief rival Vojislav Kostunica. A runoff is scheduled in two weeks in the event no one wins in the first round.

The mystery over the whereabouts of Peru's once-powerful spy chief deepened as news outlets reported he fled the country aboard a private jet. Vladimiro Montesinos, the central figure in a bribery scandal that erupted earlier this month, was said to possibly be headed for Panama. But the Panamanian government Saturday rejected Peru's request to grant him political asylum. Brazilian officials denied that their government also had been asked to shelter him. The right-hand man to President Alberto Fujimori was to be fired today under a deal with opposition leaders. He was caught on videotape appearing to offer cash to an opposition legislator to support Fujimori.

Angry pro-independence militiamen demanded the return of weapons they'd just surrendered in West Timor after visiting Indonesian Vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri refused to hear their grievances. Despite a tense standoff, police were refusing to give back the weapons as a government-imposed surrender deadline neared. The government has vowed to use force to take weapons not voluntarily turned in.

Hundreds of supporters were camped outside popular Ivory Coast opposition leader Alassane Ouattara's home, awaiting word on whether he'll be permitted to seek the presidency in next month's election. Tensions have been building since an assassination attemp against junta leader Robert Guei last week, and although Ouattara has not been implicated, Army vehicles soon were cruising past his house and rumors of his imminent arrest spread. Late last week Guei fired his top two aides, both of whom are from the region where Ouattara draws much of his support.

In another step toward national reconciliation, Somalia's new President, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, and a high-profile clan leader signed a pact committing themselves to work together to rebuild the Horn of Africa country. Hussein Aideed, who agreed to the deal in a ceremony Friday in Libya, pledged that his National Alliance would play its part in the mission. Somalia has been wracked by civil war and militia rule since President Mohammad Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

As much as 63 percent of the vote appeared to go against a controversial referendum in Switzerland that would limit the size of the foreign-born population. The measure sought to insert a new clause in the Constitution mandating the population be no more than 18 percent foreign; it's currently 19.3 percent. The government argued that passage would damage Switzerland's public image and lock out skilled people needed for key sectors of business and industry.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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