News In Brief

Indications pointed to a record low turnout as Israelis voted for a new prime minister. Although elections are national holidays, only about half of the 4.1 million eligible voters had been to the polls as the Monitor went to press. And in what analysts said was an especially bad sign for caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak, most Israeli-Arabs, to whom he pitched his final appeal for votes, appeared to be boycotting the election.

Both of the main political parties in Indonesia rejected calls for the impeachment of scandal-tainted President Abdurrahman Wahid, cutting short petition drives for a special session of parliament for that purpose. But the news came too late to stop a fourth straight day of violence by Wahid supporters in his home province. A rally by thousands more is scheduled for today in Surabaya, the nation's third-largest city.

Spraying tear gas and swinging nightsticks, police in Tripoli, Libya, chased an estimated 4,000 demonstrators away from a UN office building and the British Embassy. The protests against last week's conviction of a Libyan defendant in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 followed a speech late Monday by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi claiming the world had been deceived about the incident and defying US and British demands that he accept responsibility for the attack.

Amid exploding firecrackers, 90 people arrived on Taiwan's Quemoy island aboard the first official direct sailing from mainland China in more than 50 years for reunions with relatives separated by civil war. The ferry that brought them then returned to China's Fujian province with 138 Taiwanese for a similar purpose. In another gesture of rapprochement between the rivals, the first professional journalists from China are due to take up permanent posts on Taiwan tomorrow.

A tough new plan to ban smoking in public and to stop tobacco companies from sponsoring sports and cultural events was announced by India's government. The measure, which also would forbid cigarette sales to people under 18, calls for fines of up to $2,155 and three-year prison terms. India spends $2.9 billion a year on treating smoking-related illnesses, and health officials there report an estimated 1 million tobacco- related deaths annually.

Police followed - but made no effort to stop - demonstrators in Zambia's capital who called on President Frederick Chiluba to respect a constitutional ban on serving more than two five-year terms. His presidency is due to end this year, and the ruling Movement for Multiparty Politics (MMD) meets in June to choose its candidate to succeed him. The march in Lusaka followed a vote Sunday by MMD delegates in a key province against a proposal that would allow Chiluba to seek a third term. Leaders of the nation's three largest churches also are insisting that he not run again.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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