|W O R L D||
Thursday, December 2, 1999
|Separatist flag flies in Irian
JAKARTA, Dec 1 Almost 5,000 people gathered in the capital of Indonesias remote eastern province of Irian Jaya today to watch the hoisting of a separatist flag, the official Antara news agency said.
UK approves power transfer to N. Ireland
LONDON, Dec 1 The British Parliament paved the way for devolution of power to Northern Ireland today in an overwhelming vote of 318 to 10.
KARACHI: A policeman beats a supporter of Nawaz Sharif, deposed Prime Minister of Pakistan, who was chanting slogans against the government, on Tuesday outside the Anti-Terrorist Court in Karachi during a trial of Sharif. Sharif is facing hijacking and treason charges.
Wahid holds talks with Chinese President
BEIJING, Dec 1 Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid arrived here today in his first official visit after assuming office in October and held talks with President Jiang Zemin in a bid to stabilise his countrys often troubled ties with China.
Lankan Oppn fears
Premier rejects truce offer
win looks hollow
on womens voting right rejected
awarded to Schwarzenegger
pill for French schoolgirls
to buy Israel AWACS system
Separatist flag flies in Irian Jaya
JAKARTA, Dec 1 (Reuters) Almost 5,000 people gathered in the capital of Indonesias remote eastern province of Irian Jaya today to watch the hoisting of a separatist flag, the official Antara news agency said.
The agency said the Morning Star flag was hoisted in an early morning ceremony in Jayapura, preceded by a service led by a Protestant woman priest. It said there was no violence.
Antara said the crowd had sung Indonesias national anthem before hoisting the flag, and then sang a Papuan anthem as it was raised. Many wept as they sang the Papuan song.
Antara said the capital had turned into a ghost town, with much of business shutting down. But it said people returned to their homes peacefully after the ceremony.
Pro-independence groups plan to raise the flag of the rebel Free Papua movement across Irian Jaya today, to mark the anniversary of the day in 1961 when Dutch colonialists allowed the flag to fly.
Irian Java, on the western side of Papua New Guinea island, joined Indonesia in 1963 after massive diplomatic pressure and a threatened invasion by Jakarta.
Low-level separatist insurgencies have simmered for years in Aceh and Irian Java. Both provinces are rich in natural resources and say Jakarta plunders their wealth while offering little in return.
Indonesia has offered provinces more autonomy but insists it must preserve its territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, several incidents in the troubled Indonesian province of Aceh have left at least four people dead, two injured and a soldier missing after he was abducted by unknown men, a report said today.
A member of the Brimob police unit was killed and another injured when a gang of armed men attacked a convoy transporting money from a state bank in the Gunung Geurutee area in West Aceh yesterday, the Aceh-based Serambi daily said. The attackers fled without the money, Aceh police spokesman Major Said Husaini said, according to the daily.
Armed men also shot dead a man and his son-in-law in front of their house in Bebesan sub-district, Central Aceh, yesterday after the men heard a commotion outside their house and found sacks being burnt, Serambi said.
The men were both killed by the same bullet and the shooters escaped into the dark.
Meanwhile, the body of a man with a bullet wound was found on the side of the main road at the border between the Teunom and Samatiga sub-districts also in West Aceh yesterday.
UK approves power transfer to N. Ireland
LONDON, Dec 1 (AFP) The British Parliament paved the way for devolution of power to Northern Ireland today in an overwhelming vote of 318 to 10.
Members of the Lower House of Parliament approved the order implementing the Devolution Act, which transfers powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.
The Act will put traditional foes from Northern Irelands Roman Catholic and Protestant communities in joint control of many important portfolios in the Belfast Government.
US army bases in Panama shut down
PANAMA CITY, Dec 1 (Reuters) The USA handed over its last military bases in Panamas canal zone, causing mixed feelings among Panamanians who have lived with the U.S. military presence for nearly a century.
At a low-key ceremony overlooking the Pacific coast locks of the Panama Canal, U.S. Ambassador Simon Ferro yesterday presented the last Stars and Stripes to flutter over Fort Clayton to Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in fulfilment of the 1977 canal treaties.
Almost since the inception of the republic of Panama, the U.S. Arm*y has been presence here, Col. Edward Schumann told dignitaries in a short address.
The USA, which helped orchestrate Panamas independence from Colombia in 1903, completed the 82-km canal in 1914 and has protected it with military bases.
A 1977 deal brokered by Panamanian military leader Gen. Omar Torrijos and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter mandated the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Panama and the handover of the Panama Canal by noon on Dec 31.
But as the last remaining bases, Fort Clayton and Corozal, passed to Panama, many Panamanians began to count the economic cost of the U.S. military withdrawals.
Sceptical of government promises to create 20,000 jobs by 2003, many people are focusing on the fall-off in employment since the U.S. withdrawal began in 1996.
Since then, the local economy has registered a $265 million net loss from base spending and more than 3,500 Panamanians have lost their jobs.
Panama City hotels have also felt the impact of troop withdrawal. The hardest hit have noted a 60 per cent fall-off in occupancy as military personnel and their families pulled out.
President Moscoso, who received Clayton base on behalf of Panama, reiterated that future national security plans would not include the presence of U.S. armed forces in Panama.
Hutchison Whampoa, a
Hong Kong -based firm with ties to Beijing has won the
right to control the ports at both ends of the canal,
leading some to fear the Chinese might abuse their
effective control of the canal.
Wahid holds talks with Chinese President
BEIJING, Dec 1 (PTI) Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid arrived here today in his first official visit after assuming office in October and held talks with President Jiang Zemin in a bid to stabilise his countrys often troubled ties with China.
The Indonesian side is looking forward to the improvement of the relations between Indonesia and China, Mr Wahid, on a three-day visit at the invitation of Mr Jiang, told his Chinese counterpart during the talks, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Mr Jiang said he believed Wahids visit would promote friendly relations between the two sides, adding the fact that Indonesian President had made China his first official visit destination after assuming office demonstrated the importance he attached to improving ties with China.
Mr Wahid had expressed his wish to visit China at the earliest after taking over as President.
Chinese Premier Zhu
Rongji had met Mr Wahid in Manila on the sidelines of the
just-concluded Association of South-East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) informal summit on November 27. The two leaders
had agreed to promote friendly ties between the two
sides. Mr Zhu had also appreciated Wahids policy of
Lankan Oppn fears violence,
Colombo, Dec 1 Security is being beefed up across Sri Lanka ahead of the December 21 presidential election amid mounting violence in the run-up to the poll, police officials said.
Since last months filing of nominations for the elections, over 200 incidents of political violence have been reported from different parts of the country. A supporter of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) and a policeman were killed when a bomb was hurled at a UNP campaign meeting. There were also several clashes between supporters of the UNP and the ruling Peoples Alliance (PA), mostly over pasting and removal of posters.
Police sources said security for candidates and election rallies had been stepped up following the incidents and a countrywide curfew was expected to be clamped immediately after completion of polling to prevent violence during counting and after declaration of results.
In the latest incident of election-related violence, a group of armed men stormed Sirikotha, the UNP headquarters in a Colombo suburb, on Monday, ransacked the offices and broke a few glass panes. The attackers also destroyed a massive cut-out of opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe erected on the lawns of Sirikotha. Mr Wickremesinghe is the main rival of President Chandrika Kumaratunga in the election.
Sirikotha librarian Ranjith Gunathilake, an eyewitness, said about 20 armed men came in two vehicles and attacked the office as the security guards and office workers ran inside. No one was injured, but the building was damaged.
Independent journalists identified the persons and furnished the police with names and addresses of the PSD men who were responsible. But police has not taken any action, he charged.
Mr Wickremesinghe and a few other candidates had expressed fears of widespread violence and vote rigging and demanded that foreign observers be invited to monitor balloting to ensure a free and fair election.
Quebec Premier rejects truce offer
QUEBEC CITY, Dec 1 (Reuters) Separatist Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard has flatly rejected what he said was an incendiary offer by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien for a truce in the referendum war for the hearts and minds of Quebecers.
Its a flat no, the 60-year-old Premier yesterday told a packed news conference in Quebec City. I dont plan on compromising, on renouncing the rights of the Quebec people.
Mr Chretien on Sunday offered a deal to Mr Bouchard. He said he would stop talking about the federal governments plans to impose rules on any referendum held by the Quebec Government on secession from Canada if Mr Bouchard would agree not to hold a referendum before his current term runs out in 2003.
Recent public opinion polls have shown that about two-thirds of the population in the French-speaking province oppose another referendum on secession.
Mr Chretiens proposal equals asking Quebecers to resign themselves, Mr Bouchard said, adding he was surprised at the Prime Ministers weekend mood swing.
He added he would continue to pursue his goal of holding a referendum.
Mahathirs win looks hollow
THE gloss wore off Mahathir Mohamads election triumph on Tuesday as Malaysians saw ominous signs behind his two-thirds majority win in Mondays general election.
While the Prime Ministers ruling National Front (NF) coalition gathered 148 seats out of 193 in the new federal Parliament, it suffered significant losses in the state elections, where NF seats were down in the 11 contested states from 350 to 268.
The loss of two states in the northern Malay heartland to the Islamic opposition PAS party also prompted sober thoughts in the pro-government Press.
The tabloid Sun called it a crushing victory at a heavy price. It said the PASs clean sweeps in Terengganu and Kelantan showed the Malay world is in turmoil.
The staunchly pro-Mahathir New Straits Times admitted there had been doubts before and during the election.
A first-past-the-post system weighted in favour of small rural constituencies ensured that the NF would dominate. But majorities slumped in nearly all seats it won in the northern states, and in many others, including Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
It was clear that the popular vote for the government had fallen significantly. In the typical Kuala Lumpur constituency of Lembah Pantai, the government majority fell from 13,389 in 1995 to 1,417.
The Opposition candidate was Zainur Zakaria, a prominent lawyer for jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
Opinion was divided on the long-term implications of the rise of the PAS, which holds 27 of the 44 seats won by the new Opposition Alternative Front.
The picture is complicated by the decline of the Chinese-based DAP, which paid a heavy price for joining the front. The DAP won 10 seats but lost its two top leaders, the veteran Lim Kit Siang and the deputy Karpal Singh, dashing the Oppositions chances of significant gains as its supporters fearful of rising Islamic influence deserted to the government.
The new National Justice party (Keadilan), led by Anwars wife Wan Azizah, gained five seats and narrowly failed in several other key contests. Observers agree that in a nine-day campaign, with the media dominated by government propaganda, the Opposition was never given a fair test.
Dr Azizah said her husband has no radio or television in his cell and that she did not know how soon he would learn the results.
The Alternative Front says it is preparing a dossier of election irregularities, including suspect postal votes and spoilt ballots. Observers from the Asian Network for Free Elections said on Tuesday that identity cards had allegedly been given to migrant workers so that they could vote for the government.
Some middle-class professionals who worked for the Opposition fear reprisals. But they hope the Alternative Front will survive.
This is a turning point for the new generation of Malaysians, said a young lawyer who, like many Opposition volunteers, did not want to be named. The Opposition has made inroads, and in spite of inducements, hundreds of thousands of people voted for honesty.
Dr Mahathirs intentions remain unclear. Internal party pressure could bring him to account for a divisive campaign. But there is no obvious opponent to challenge him at the party congress next June.
Bill on womens voting right rejected
DUBAI, Dec 1 (UNI) The Kuwaiti Parliament has narrowly rejected a bill to grant women the right to vote and contest for office in parliamentary elections from 2003, as proposed by the Emir.
In the National Assembly yesterday, 32 MPs voted against the legislation and 30 in its favour while two abstained. With 64 MPs present in the House, the bill needed the support of 33 to become law.
Media reports here said while MPs could not reintroduce the proposed law in the current parliamentary term, the government could push it again in the form of new legislation.
The Kuwait Government argued that the current election law which banned women violate the constitution, but it hinted that it had no plans to refer the issue to the constitutional court.
The government was represented in Parliament by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince, Sheikh Saad Al Abdulla Al Sabah.
Women in the audience wore shirts symbolising support for their rights. They were dismayed by the rejection of the bill. Liberal MP Ahmad Al Rubai was quoted as saying after the vote that we will fight on ... we will not give up.
Damages awarded to Schwarzenegger
BERLIN, Dec 1 (Reuters) A Berlin court awarded Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger 20,000 marks $ 10,300 in damages yesterday after a Berlin doctor said the former body builder was bound to die soon after past use of anabolic steroids.
Dr Willi Heepe, who works in a heart patient recovery centre, told a German radio station in 1998 that Schwarzenegger, now 52, would die soon because of the dangers of steroids.
objects to a doctor giving him a diagnosis of death from
afar, said Jan Hegemann, Schwarzeneggers
attorney. Heepes interview followed the September
1998 sudden heart seizure and death of Olympic champion
sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner. Schwarzenegger
underwent elective surgery in April 1997 to repair a
defective heart valve.
Contraceptive pill for French schoolgirls
PARIS, Dec 1 (Reuters) The morning-after pill will soon be available to French schoolgirls from campus nurses, raising fears among parents that it will encourage their daughters to take a free and easy attitude to sex.
The government plans
announced last week to let school health workers
administer the pill to prevent pregnancy after
unprotected sex have conjured images among parents of the
white tablets being dished out like sweets.
China to buy Israel AWACS system
JERUSALEM, Dec 1 (AFP) Chinas Parliamentary Speaker, Li Peng, the highest ranking Chinese official ever to visit Israel, made a secret trip while here to view an Israeli AWACS plane, The Haaretz daily reported today.
The unannounced visit took place yesterday near Tel Aviv in the presence of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) officials, the report said.
|Vampire found guilty
SAN FRANCISCO: A man who said he was a 2,000-year-old vampire who needs to drink human blood has been found guilty of second degree murder for slashing the throat of a San Francisco homeless woman and killing her. Joshua Rudiger, a 22-year-old with a history of mental illness, was also convicted on lesser assault counts in three other knife attacks on homeless San Franciscans in 1998, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday. prey is prey, Rudiger, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, told investigators. Reuters
McQueen wins award
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