News In Brief

Ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned home to Israel from a speaking tour, saying he'd announce soon whether he will seek the office again. Opinion polls show he would win if a national election - generally expected next May - were to take place now. But Netanyahu first would have to defeat hard-line Likud party leader Ariel Sharon in a primary for the right to take on embattled incumbent Ehud Barak. Barak and Sharon were to meet as the Monitor went to press for another discussion expected to center on forming a unity government.

Potential witnesses against impeached Philippines President Joseph Estrada were reporting threats against their safety, with his trial in the Senate due to open tomorrow. Those involved were placed under surveillance, but at least three reportedly were balking at submitting even written testimony. The trial is seen as perhaps the ultimate test of Filipinos' political will in a year already disrupted by devastating typhoons and a Muslim rebel hostage-taking crisis.

The house arrest imposed on ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was set aside by an appeals court pending a decision on whether it agrees he must be tried for murder and kidnapping. A three-judge panel in Santiago is expected to announce its ruling as soon as today. Pinochet was indicted by a lower court last Friday for alleged crimes after he overthrew Marxist President Salvador Allende in 1973.

A state of emergency and over-night curfews were imposed in Ivory Coast as a second straight day of street fighting threatened to escalate. Supporters of opposition leader and ex-Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara claimed at least 30 people died in clashes with police and loyalists of President Laurent Gbagbo; police put the number at 13. The violence erupted after Ouattara was ruled off the ballot for Sunday's parliamentary election on grounds that one of his parents is not Ivorian. He also was excluded from October's presidential election.

Opposition parties with candidates in tomorrow's presidential election in Ghana were scheduling news conferences, apparently to warn of vote-rigging by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). Their worries grew after the Supreme Court ruled Monday that polls need not accept new identity cards bearing voters' photos, under a program funded by the European Union to help ensure fairness. President and NDC leader Jerry Rawlings is not seeking reelection. His protege, Vice President John Atta Mills, is seen as having far less charisma and faces a proven vote-getter in New Patriotic Party candidate John Kufuor.

The first Cabinet in the history of Japan to include two former heads of government was announced by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori in a new move to cling to power. Mori chose Ryutaro Hashimoto (1996-98) as minister for administrative reform. Kiichi Miyazawa (1991-93) retained the finance minister's portfolio. Mori hopes to survive in office at least until voters choose a new upper house of parliament next July.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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