News In Brief

The International Olympic Committee will vote on a host city for the 2008 Summer Games tomorrow - a bid that China has been lobbying hard for. Despite persistent global criticism of China's rights policies, Beijing is considered the front-runner ahead of Toronto and Paris, with Istanbul, Turkey, and Osaka, Japan, considered long shots. While critics urged IOC members to reject Beijing, Chinese officials said the Olympics could promote positive change in the world's most populous nation, a position thought to appeal to IOC members. Meanwhile, Salt Lake City's chief Olympic organizer pleaded with officials to consider Beijing's bid on its "technical merits."

Cambodia's long-awaited draft law to try former Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide was passed 86 to 2 by the National Assembly after lawmakers considered a revision specifying life imprisonment as the heaviest penalty. In January, they had approved a full draft, only to learn that it might allow the death penalty, forbidden by the constitution. Legislation for a UN-assisted tribunal to try surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, blamed for 1.7 million deaths in the 1970s, must be approved by the Senate and King Norodom Sihanouk, but all are likely to support it, a cabinet minister said. National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh discusses the legislation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a hotly debated law on nuclear-waste imports to Russia, but proposed that any such imports be subject to approval by a public council. Environmentalists argue that it will turn Russia into a nuclear dump and say Russia's spotty nuclear-safety record casts doubt on its ability to safely handle spent fuel. Proponents say Russia could earn $20 billion in 10 years, importing 20,000 metric tons of nuclear fuel to store and reprocess.

Hong Kong lawmakers passed a law allowing Beijing to fire Hong Kong's government leader. Its passage followed an angry debate in which opponents warned that the territory was further surrendering its autonomy to communist China. Since Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, it's been run under a "one country, two systems" arrangement that gives local government say over most day-to-day affairs.

Facing a no-confidence motion, Sri Lakan President Chandrika Kumaratunga suspended parliament and ordered a national referendum, seeking a mandate to govern the war-wracked country with a new constitution. The rare, but valid, suspension of parliament for 60 days is seen as a political move to avoid defeat in a no-confidence motion opposition leaders presented after her nine-month governing coalition was reduced to a minority last month.

Burundi's President Pierre Buyoya said he'll abide by a power-sharing deal aimed at ending his country's 8-year civil war, a day after he was named to lead a transitional government. Buyoya previously had said a deal hinged on a cease-fire, which has not occurred in a war that's claimed 250,000 lives.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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