News In Brief

Despite running battles outside between security forces and demonstrators, leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations were wrapping up their summit in Quebec City. They planned to announce a blueprint for a free-trade bloc - the object of protester anger - built on democratic principles that would be in place by 2005. The leaders already had agreed that the Inter-American Development Bank should no longer lend money to nations deemed undemocratic. At least 420 protesters had been arrested as the Monitor went to press.

A new suicide bombing in Israel that killed two people and wounded 39 others was the "full responsibility" of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said. But a senior Palestinian rejected the claim. The blast, at a bus stop in a Tel Aviv suburb, came shortly after Israeli and Palestinian security officials had discussed the feasibility of coordinating operations. Hamas, the militant Palestinian movement, called the explosion an act of self-defense, but stopped short of claiming credit for it.

"Interdiction" flights by US surveillance planes over Peru were suspended after an incident Friday that killed an American missionary and her infant daughter and wounded their pilot. Her husband and son escaped injury. Their private seaplane was shot down by a Peruvian Air Force pilot who mistook them for smugglers, reports said. The Peruvian had been alerted by a US surveillance plane that the missionaries' flight was over a jungle area known to be rife with drug trafficking.

Hundreds of thousands of voters were eligible to go to the polls in Montenegro for a critical election that could determine whether the small republic eventually secedes from Yugoslavia. President Milo Djukanovic (above, casting his ballot in Podgorica, the capital) told journalists he'd hold a referendum "soon, of course" if his Victory Belongs to Montenegro coalition held on to power in parliament. The opposition Together for Yugoslavia movement was claiming that the election was "not fair or democratic."

As many as 15,000 protesters chanted and sang in Lusaka, Zambia, in opposition to a third term for President Frederick Chiluba after the Supreme Court overruled a police ban on their rally. The gathering Saturday was the largest public demonstration in 11 years. Chiluba's term expires later this year; he is forbidden from running again. But he has blocked others in his Movement for Multiparty Democracy from campaigning and has purged party leaders and members of his cabinet who've spoken out against his efforts to amend the Constitution.

Another attempt by women to challenge Kuwait's males-only election law was rejected by the emirate's highest court. The setback was the sixth in a series that began last July after parliament overturned a 1999 decree by Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah that would have granted full political rights to females. The latest suit appeared to have strong legal arguments on its side, having been referred by a lower court in January, but the plaintiffs were told their attorney lacked proper authorization to represent them.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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