|Thursday, January 20, 2000,
spread on Indonesian isle
Clock ticks for Pinochets
UN Council fails to okay
Riots spread on Indonesian isle
MATARAM, (Indonesia) Jan19 (AP) Muslim mobs blocked access to the main port on the tourist island of Lombok today, while others set fire to more Christian homes and shops on the third day of religious violence.
The police in full riot gear patrolled the streets in Lomboks capital Mataram and the nearby resort of Senggigi, but were unable to prevent roaming gangs of youths from torching several houses in the town.
Three persons had been shot dead in the unrest which erupted on Monday, following a protest by local Muslims against continuing violence between Muslims and Christians in the Malukus archipelago in eastern Indonesia, where clashes have claimed more than 2,000 lives in the past year.
Despite the presence of hundreds of riot police in Lomboks capital Mataram and the nearby resort of Senggigi, roaming gangs of youths continued to torch houses and shops in the town.
Many Indonesians fear that the unrest in Lombok and Sulawesi signals the advent of a wider sectarian conflict that could engulf the worlds fourth most-populous nation.
Tensions spread to Sulawesi, where Muslims barricaded several streets in the capital of Makassar and attacked non-Muslim residents, media reports said.
In Ambon, the capital of South Maluku province where sectarian clashes began exactly one year ago, Muslim gangs attempted to storm a Christian neighbourhood but were blocked by police, eyewitnesses said.
Speaking to his Cabinet in Jakarta, President Abdurrahman Wahid said he had received reports that some military and government officials on Lombok had instigated the violence.
The President has ordered military leaders to investigate this matter thoroughly and immediately, said Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak.
Meanwhile, Security Minister Wiranto told reporters that the violence was under control and that it will not spread to other regions.
Lombok, a picturesque volcanic island of palm-fringed beaches and green rice fields, is home to Indonesias three main faiths. Although most of its people are Muslim, there are minority groups of Hindus and Christians.
The local airport was crowded with nervous Christians trying to leave for the neighbouring island of Bali, Indonesias premier tourist destination.
In the nearby town of Ampenan, about a dozen shops were razed and several cars had been overturned and set ablaze by gangs of thugs wearing white skullcaps, common among Muslim men.
Clock ticks for Pinochets return
SANTIAGO, Jan 19 (DPA) A Chilean air force plane was on its way to Britain today for use in the event that ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet is released, reports here said.
The plane reportedly took off from Arica in Chile and was to stop along the way before reaching its end destination at Britains Brize Norton Air Force Base.
Operation Return has long been in the planning. According to reports from Radio Cooperativa in Santiago, another Chilean air force plane has been at the ready in an undisclosed location for some time.
The deadline to petition against freeing Gen Pinochet expired yesterday, and British Home Secretary Jack Straw is expected to issue a decision on Gen Pinochets release in the next few days.
If the ex-dictator is returned to Chile, he will undergo an investigation into whether he is mentally capable of standing trial, said Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, who is preparing more than 50 charges against him for crimes during his military dictatorship between 1973 and 1990.
In Chile, criminal proceedings are suspended only if the defendant is found mentally incapable of standing trial. Health grounds, unlike in UK, play no role in the course of a trial. Nevertheless, as a senator, Pinochet has just about lifelong immunity from prosecution.
Newly elected Chilean President Ricardo Lagos (61) planned in his first press conference after the election to demand considerations for victims of Gen Pinochets dictatorship.
Humanitarian grounds also go for everyone who has been waiting for justice for 25 years, he said.
Meanwhile, a coalition of human rights groups led by Amnesty International in its appeal told Mr Straw they strongly oppose his intention to declare the former dictator too ill for trial.
They expressed concern that it was based on secret medical evidence which may not reflect the Generals true condition.
Lawyers for Amnesty and other rights organisations said they had it on good authority that Mr Straw was very unlikely to make his ruling before next week. They also indicated they would be allowed time to mount a legal challenge.
some of the submissions literally seen them, Mr
Straw told BBC radio as the deadline neared. They are
very bulky and will require the most careful
consideration. Nevertheless, barring a sudden
change in fortune, the ailing General is expected to be
able to catch a flight home from Britain soon.
Kohl quits CDU post in disgrace
BERLIN, Jan 19 (PTI) Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohls image as a post-war icon has taken a beating following his forced resignation as Honorary Chairman of the main opposition Christian Democrats over his involvement in a $ 1-million (US) fund-raising scandal.
Sixtynine-year-old Kohl, who ruled the party with an iron fist for 25 years, 16 of them as Chancellor until his defeat in 1998, gave up his party post yesterday after the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) executive issued an ultimatum to reveal names of donors or quit.
I do not consider myself in a position to renege on the promise that I made to a few people who supported me financially to work within the CDU, Mr Kohl said in a communique released to the press shortly after the ultimatum was issued.
The decision to resign as Honorary Chairman is difficult for me. I have belonged for 50 years to the CDU. It is and will remain my political home.
Analysts said Mr Kohls decision was forced by his increasing isolation in the party which began to perceive him as a liability after the scandal erupted in November last.
With all respect for his experience and his achievements, the Kohl time has passed, according to Mr Ole Von Beust, a local party leader in the city state of Hamburg.
Mr Kohls resignation came after the CDU executive in a statement yesterday asked him to reveal names of the donors or quit in a fund-raising scandal that threatens to shatter the partys challenge to the ruling coalition headed by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
The CDU is convinced that Mr Helmut Kohl had acted in violation of his duties as Honorary Chairman, Mr Kohls hand-picked successor Wolfgang Schaeuble read out from the text. Mr Kohl has been Honorary Chairman since the electoral debacle in September 1998.
Mr Schaeuble said if Mr Kohl refused to make his contribution (to resolving the crisis), he should take a rest from his office as Honorary Chairman.
Mr Kohl, instrumental in paving way for German unification in 1990 and launch of a Pan-European currency, admitted in November that he improperly accepted up to $ 1-million in cash in the 1990s, his last five years as Chancellor.
While Bonn prosecutors have already opened a criminal investigation into a possible breach of trust, Parliament is probing whether these illegal cash donations influenced decisions by the Kohl government, a charge Mr Kohl denies.
Mr Kohl has repeatedly said he did not use the money for himself but used it to get his party a foothold in the new eastern states after unification. Breach of trust under German laws can result in a fine, up to five years in jail or both.
After the scandal broke party members have openly called upon Mr Kohl to withdraw from politics to help limit the damages to the party.
Mr Kohl had stayed active in party business until the scandal, which is seen as slowly stripping away the charisma surrounding him, broke.
Mr Kohl, who had a reputation for his sitzfleisch ability to weather problems by sitting them out has avoided public appearances in recent weeks. He has declined to answer questions about the scandal but in a brief interview recently he said he was not worried.
I know how to forget about everything and relax, he said when asked about the scandal at a New Years eve celebrations at the newly-restored Reichstag.
Mr Kohls admission
of accepting off-the-books donations has triggered
disclosures by party leaders, including Mr Schaeuble
having received a $ 50,000 political donation not entered
on party records, and stashing away of $ 7-million by
party leaders in foreign accounts in Hesse.
war on AIDS in Africa
OF the 48 least developed countries in the world, 33 are in Africa. Out of two dozen or more conflicts raging around the world, roughly half are in Africa. Fifteen sub-Saharan African countries are currently faced with exceptional food emergencies.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, over 10 million peoples food supplies are threatened by civil strife. And out of 11 million orphans so far left by the global AIDS epidemic, 90 per cent are African children.
These disturbing statistics about the cocktail of disasters afflicting the Africa region have come from the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, at a time when the UN Security Council is observing January the first month of the new millennium as a month of Africa. The initiative came from the USA, currently the president of the council, and the object is to make the international community to rally to Africas support.
Under the UN Charter, the 15-member Security Council is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. But, for the first time in its history, the council held a seven-hour session to discuss a health issue AIDS as a threat to peace and security in Africa.
The Vice-President of the USA, Mr Al Gore, travelled from Washington to New York to initiate the debate, and set the tone for it with a warning that AIDS was a global aggressor that must be defeated. Over the past decade, he noted, a rising wave of African nations had moved from dictatorship to democracy, and economic growth had tripled. That progress was, however, imperilled by the threat of AIDS.
As Mr Kofi Annan reminded the council, AIDS was not purely an African problem. There are many countries outside Africa especially in Asia and eastern Europe, where it is spreading at an alarming rate. But, the Secretary-General emphasised, nowhere else had, AIDS become a threat to economic, social and political stability on the scale that it now was in southern and eastern Africa. The impact of AIDS in that region is no less destructive than that of warfare itself, Mr Annan declared in his address to the council. Last year AIDS killed about 10 times more people in Africa than did armed conflict.
According to the World Bank President, Mr James Wonfensohn, while life expectancy in Africa has increased by 24 years under African leadership over the past four decades, the development gains seen in the continent are threatened by AIDS epidemic. In too many cases, the gains of life expectancy are being wiped out. More teachers are dying each week than can be trained. Judges, officials and military personnel were being ravaged.
Statistics revealed by UNDP Administrator, Mr Mark Malloch Brown, highlight the meagre resources available to fight AIDS in Africa. The USA with 40,000 new cases annually, spent $10 billion each year on prevention, care, treatment and research, while in Africa, with four million new cases each year, $ 165 million in official money was spent.
The USA has committed $ 100 million to fight against AIDS in the poorest countries. The US Congress is expected to take action next month on the request of the Clinton administration to increase the contribution to $ 325 million. Japan and several other developed countries are also contributing substantial funds, but as the UNDP chief points out, it is necessary to mobilise more resources and promote inter-country cooperation to combat the dreaded disease.
African countries may be
inclined to agree with Secretary-General Kofi Annan that
there is no need to give way to
Afro-pessimism, but equally, they see
validity in the warning from the UNDP Administrator, Mr
Brown, that today this is Africas drama.
Unmet, it becomes the worlds.
Pak fails to get Chinas backing on J-K
BEIJING, Jan 19 (PTI) Though the Pakistani military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf, returned home triumphantly with the Chinese support for his regime, he apparently failed to convince the Communist leadership to back Islamabads hazardous stand on the Kashmir issue, observers here said.
There is no doubt that the Chinese rolled out the red carpet for General Musharraf. However, on the sensitive question of Kashmir, they did not succumb to the hazardous stand of the Pakistani General, one observer told PTI today, a day after the army ruler won Beijings support for his military regime.
China openly backed Pakistans claim to all of Kashmir in the 1960s and 1970s but appeared to avoid taking sides in recent years in tune with easing of tensions with India.
This was evident in the statements made by the top three Chinese leaders, President Jiang Zemin, Parliament Speaker Li Peng and Premier Zhu Rongji, who avoided commenting, at least publicly, on Indo-Pak relations or on Kashmir, the observer said.
Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao had commented on the vexed
Kashmir issue at a regular news briefing saying that
China hoped that India and Pakistan would settle all
their disputes, including Kashmir, in a peaceful manner.
UN Council fails to okay Annans choice
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 19 (AP) The UN Security Council failed to approve the U.N. Chiefs candidate to head the new weapons inspection agency for Iraq, an indication that restarting inspections will be a long and arduous process even before arms experts arrive in Baghdad.
Russia, China and France blocked the council approval yesterday for Secretary-General KofI Annans choice for the job. Mr Rolf Ekeus, currently Swedens US Ambassador.
Faced with the
stalemate, the council decided after two hours of talks
to continue consultations among ambassadors and Foreign
Ministers until an agreement is reached. U.S. Ambassador
Richard Holbrooke, council President, indicated that
could take several days, if not weeks.
Russia presents case before Council of Europe
MAKHACHKALA (Russia), Jan 19 (Reuters) Russia has stepped-up its campaign to take control of the Chechen capital Grozny and will take a European delegation to the province on Wednesday in an effort to counter western critics.
Fierce battles for Grozny this week followed a pause by the Russians, during which Chechen rebels seized the initiative with thrusts at Russian-held towns.
Russian officials have made an effort to present their case by escorting a delegation of the Council of Europe to nearby regions to meet locals who back the military campaign.
In the remote mountain
town of Botlikh, East of Chechnya, the delegations
helicopter was met yesterday by an angry crowd which said
western officials had overlooked their suffering when
Chechen-led Islamic rebels launched a raid there in
US test for missile defence system fails
WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (Reuters) The US military today failed to hit a speeding missile warhead high over the Pacific Ocean in a key test of a planned national missile defence system, the US Defence Department said.
An intercept was not achieved, the Pentagon said in a brief statement yesterday after a projectile fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the western Pacific missed the warhead launched from Vandenberg air force base, California, 6,900 km away. The anti-missile weapon, built by Raytheon Co., had hit a similar warhead in space last October.
The target warhead was
launched on a Minuteman missile from Vandenberg at 6.19
p.m. Pacific time (7.49 a.m. IST) and the prototype
interceptor was fired at the warhead from Kwajalein about
20 minutes later.
squads kill 26 peasants
Actor quits to
fight Parkinsons disease
gets 2-yr jail term
signs ruled a hazard
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