News In Brief

By a 363-to-52 vote, members of parliament in Indonesia OK'd a second censure motion against President Abdurrahman Wahid. Forty-two others abstained. The rebuke on grounds of corruption and incompetence paves the way for impeachment proceedings this summer should the legislators choose that course. And, analysts said, it raises doubts about whether Wahid's troubled rule can last much longer even without an impeachment effort. The parliamentary session took place amid intense security precautions, but there were no immediate reports of violence by tens of thousands of Wahid supporters massed in the capital, Jakarta.

A new rift appeared to be developing between Israel and Egyptian President Mubarak over the latter's announcement Sunday of a cease-fire deal with the Palestinians. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, leaving for a key trip to Washington, was quoted as saying Mubarak "had made a mistake." But the latter replied angrily that "they begged me to make the statement." Peres is due to meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and President Bush on ending violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A clearly disappointed president of the Philippines said an attempt by supporters of her predecessor to seize power "fizzled out." "I was hoping they would act so I could crush them," Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told journalists. No alleged plotters were identified, and no arrests were announced. News of the plot came as tens of thousands of backers of ousted President Joseph Estrada staged a sixth day of street protests in Manila, the capital. Estrada, currently in a government hospital for medical tests, is to be arraigned on plunder and other charges June 27.

By an overwhelming majority, the ruling party of Zambia voted to amend its charter, allowing President Frederick Chiluba to be nominated for a third five-year term. Immediately afterward, he signed nomination papers - the only candidate from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy to do so. About 300 MMD delegates - among them Vice president Godfrey Miyanda - boycotted the meeting after pro-Chiluba youths blocked entrance to those known to oppose another term. Zambia's Constitution bars a president from serving more than two terms, and analysts say rewriting it in time to allow for Chiluba's reelection this fall will likely prove difficult.

Saying, "useless politicians should stay home," the military ruler of Pakistan banned a rally today in support of democracy. But opposition leaders insisted the threat of arrest wouldn't stop them from pressing for an immediate return to civilian government. They vowed to try to hold the demonstration despite the fact that 15,000 riot police were ordered to seal off the site, a public park in Karachi that has been used for similar gatherings. A crackdown last month in Lahore also foiled a planned rally.

Delegates from 190 countries opened a five-day effort in Geneva to forge the world's first treaty on weaning smokers off tobacco. If a consensus can be reached, the gathering under World Health Organization auspices would send the delegates home with a draft accord for approval by their respective parliaments. Among other aims, it would severely restrict tobacco advertising and gradually eliminate the sponsorship of sporting events by cigarette makers. But it would leave legal action against the industry to the discretion of individual governments. Critics said they expect any final draft to contain watered-down language.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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