News In Brief

Waiting in line for hours under a broiling sun, thousands of Congolese paid their last respects to assassinated President Laurent Kabila as his remains lay in state. The government reinforced security in the capital, Kinshasa , and in the No. 2 city, Lubumbashi, with the funeral scheduled for today. Meanwhile, African leaders were consulting on arrangements for a peace summit on Congo as soon as possible, concerned that Kabila's death and the takeover of his inexperienced son as interim president could cause escalation of the civil war there.

Sixteen thousand Palestinian laborers were cleared to return to their jobs in Israel from the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Day 2 of the latest marathon peace negotiations between the two sides. Such Palestinians have been allowed to work on only a few occasions since the current violence flared up Sept. 28. The blockade has cost the Palestinian economy $10 million a day, the UN estimates.

In a change of strategy, the president of Russia turned over command of the fight against separatists in Chechnya to the secret service. Vladimir Putin also set a May 15 deadline for intelligence chief Nikolai Patrushev to produce results through the use of small, mobile strike units. As many as 80,000 Army and Interior Ministry troops are stationed in the breakaway region, and Putin said many of them would be recalled.

In another goodwill gesture toward democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, a court in Burma (Myanmar) dismissed a lawsuit that could have cost her her home. The suit was filed against the Nobel Peace Prize-winner by her estranged brother, a US resident who, under local law, may not control property in Burma. He sought half-ownership of the house Suu Kyi inherited from their mother in 1988. In recent weeks, the ruling junta has held secret talks with her, ordered attacks against her by the controlled news media halted, and made other concessions.

Milder than expected weather was aiding emergency crews as they raced to clean up an oil spill menacing the environmentally sensitive Galapagos islands. But authorities upped their estimate of the diesel fuel that has leaked so far from a capsized tanker to at least 600 tons, more than twice the original guess. The pollution already has coated sea lions, pelicans, and other species on the islands administered by Ecuador.

The cause of separatism for Quebec took on new life as a staunch secessionist announced his candidacy to replace retiring Premier Lucien Bouchard. The province's finance minister, Bernard Landry, a cofounder of the separatist Parti Quebecois, said he wouldn't rule out a new referendum on independence before the next general election, due within two years. Bouchard attributed his retirement, in part, to a failure to advance the independence agenda.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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