|Tuesday, March 14, 2000,
Landslide for Aznar in Spain
Sharif given time to persuade
No troop reduction: UK
Actors Guild honours
Mozambique death toll 492
Landslide for Aznar in Spain
MADRID, March 13 (AP) Buoyed by a robust economy, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar scored a landslide win in Spains general election, obtaining an absolute majority in Parliament.
Jubilant supporters of the Conservative Popular Party waved red and yellow Spanish flags and danced in the streets in a victor rally yesterday outside party headquarters in Madrid. Aznar and his wife Ana Botella waved to the crowds from a balcony.
"We have won the elections," Aznar shouted above the roar of the crowd. "Spanish voters have been very generous to us. But we will return that generosity with our work."
He pledged that his next government would be "open to dialogue with all parties, social representatives and all of Spanish society."
The Interior Ministry said with 98.9 per cent of the votes counted, the Popular Party won 44.7 per cent, getting 183 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies, up from 156 in the last legislature.
The opposition Socialists won 34.1 per cent, slumping to 125 seats from 141. Its allies in the Communist-dominated United Left coalition plunged to eight seats from 21.
The Socialist candidate for Prime Minister, Joaquin Almunia, conceded defeat and resigned as party leader, a post he had held since 1997.
The outcome of the vote marked a personal triumph for Aznar, who had confounded critics who deemed him too colourless to last after ousting charismatic Socialist Felipe Gonzalez in the last election.
It was also a resounding victory against the Socialists and their new allies, the Communist-led United Left, who had joined forces for the first time since Spains bloody civil war of the 1930s.
With the vote count nearly complete, the centre-right Popular was seen sharply improving on its current 156 seats while receiving 44.7 per cent of the vote, about 6 per cent better than the last election.
Almunia, 51, had hoped to lure back hundreds of thousands of voters who deserted the Socialist Party after it was rocked by corruption scandals during Gonzalezs nearly 14 years in power.
Voter turnout was 7 percentage points lower than the 77 per cent rate in last election a development that analysts said, favoured Aznar because of what is widely seen as a leftward tilt of the Spanish electorate.
Aznar had based his campaign on the economy, claiming credit for buoyant growth, falling unemployment and Spains qualification for the launch of the euro.
Aznar, the Spains
first right-leaning Prime Minister since the death of
dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, fought back by warning
voters that a Socialist-Communist administration would
led to economic ruin.
Sharif given time to persuade counsel
ISLAMABAD, March 13 (PTI) The anti-terrorism court gave deposed Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif a days time to persuade his lawyers, who boycotted trial today demanding shifting the case out of Karachi, even as lawyers countrywide observed a strike protesting the killing of key defence counsel Iqbal Radh.
Sharif, who along with other co-accused including his younger brother Shahbaz, was produced in the court trying them of hijacking and other charges, told Judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffrey that he needed "some time" to persuade his lawyers to return to the court.
The judge, while adjourning the case for the day, granted Sharif permission to speak to his lawyers over a mobile phone in his presence, which he did.
Sharifs lawyer Khwaja Sultan Ahmed, however, told PTI on phone from Lahore that the five Lahore-based defence counsel would not appear in the Karachi court as they were not sure of their safety and security.
Chief prosecutor and Advocate-General of Sindh, Raja Qureshi told PTI from Karachi that it was not possible to shift the venue of the trial as demanded by defence lawyers, as the court did not have the power to do so.
Sharif, while seeking adjournment of the case said, that he came to know about his lawyers decision to boycott the trial through newspapers. "I havent had any contact with them and their decision has not been taken with my knowledge. We should be provided the facilities to contact our lawyers and find out what is in their minds."
Qureshi told the court that the Sindh government had offered additional security to Sharifs lawyers to attend the court in Karachi, where Radh was killed by unidentified gunmen on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Sharifs Pakistan Muslim League (N) party demanded thorough probe into the killing of Radh by a Supreme Court Judge.
The secretary of the PMLs media committee, Mian Anwarul Haq Ramay criticised Qureshis statement that the hijacking case would not be shifted from Karachi saying it reflected a biased attitude which was against the demands for justice, PPI news agency said.
attitude, Mr Ramay said, had been "deplorable"
from the beginning. No action was taken when
Sharifs notes were stolen from his jail cell. Notes
from Radhs office were stolen but no action was
General blamed for Bosnia massacre
THE HAGUE, March 13 (Reuters) UN prosecutors, opening former Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstics trial on genocide charges, said today he led the 1995 Srebrenica massacre that became Europes worst atrocity since World War II.
"This is a case about the triumph of evil, about men who professed to be professional soldiers ... (who) organised, planned and willingly participated in the genocide or stood silent in the face of it," said prosecutor Mark Hamon.
Krstic (52), is accused over his role in the execution of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys after the fall of Srebrenica, a UN-designated safe area, in July 1995.
Dressed in a grey jacket, black shirt and tie, Krstic listened unmoved to the case against him at the international criminal tribunal for undivided Yugoslavia.
Mr Hamon described how Bosnian Serb forces led by Krstic and Commander-in-Chief General Ratko Mladic entered the enclave that was guarded by some 100 lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers.
The seizure of Srebrenica, he said, was followed by the carefully organised massacre and the deportation of up to 30,000 of the majority Muslim population.
"The victors abandoned all sense of humanity and committed atrocities on a scale not seen since the World War II," Mr Hamon said, adding that 7,574 people were still listed as missing, presumed dead. The victims were not soldiers killed in combat, but unarmed men, many of whom were murdered with their arms tied behind their backs, their eyes hidden by blindfolds.
"The manner in which these people perished is incomprehensible by all standards known to mankind," he stated.
Smog threat to Borneo alarming
JAKARTA, March 13 (Reuters) A thick blanket of smoke from raging fires in Borneo has reached "very dangerous levels, just as the smoke clears in neighbouring Sumatra, an Indonesian environmental watchdog said today.
Investigators expressed grave concern that the problem appeared to be getting worse in the western part of Borneo, particularly in Indonesias West Kalimantan province.
One government agency said Indonesias air pollution index had gone way above acceptable levels and daily life in and around the city of Pontaniak, the capital city of West Kalimantan province, had been seriously disrupted.
"It has gone over 300. It has even gone past 500," said Rukasi from the Pontianak Environmental Supervisory Agency. "Thats very dangerous."
No troop reduction: UK
BELFAST, March 13 (Reuters) Britain has rejected Dublins call for a troop reduction in Northern Ireland, saying that its forces could not be scaled back until the threat of guerrilla violence ebbed.
"Security cannot be reduced unless the threat falls away," Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson said in a statement.
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern yesterday said in Australia that there was a need for Britain to scale down its military bases in Northern Ireland.
The UK presence was "a source of harassment and annoyance" in border areas like South Armagh, an Irish Republican stronghold, Mr Ahern said.
The Northern Ireland peace process has been stalled since Mandelson suspended the home-rule government of pro-British Protestants and Roman Catholic Republicans last month over the failure of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to hand over their weapons.
About 2,000 Republicans marched in Belfast on Sunday to protest against the freezing of the fledgling coalition government.
The London and Dublin governments will seek compromise from the squabbling Northern Ireland parties in Washington when political leaders fly to the USA for the March 17 celebrations of St Patricks Day, Irelands National Day.
Actors Guild honours
LOS ANGELES, March 13 (AP) Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey won top film acting honours from the Screen Actors Guild for their roles as dysfunctional couple in the suburban satire "American Beauty," positioning them as frontrunners at the Oscars later this month.
"American Beauty" also won the Guilds Ensemble Acting Award at yesterdays ceremony. The movie leads all contenders with eight Oscar nominations. The Oscar ceremony is on March on 26.
Spacey, who already has a supporting actor Oscar for "The Usual Suspects," thanked his "American Beauty" co-stars, saying that they were "the reason I was able to come to work every day."
Angelina Jolie won the supporting Female Actor Award for her take on a hospitalised sociopath in "Girl, Interrupted." Michael Caine took the supporting male actor honour for his role as an ether- toking abortionist in "The Cider House Rules."
Mozambique death toll 492
MAPUTO, March 13 (AP) Retreating flood waters have revealed corpses that had been submerged for up to two weeks, and the government has raised the confirmed death toll to 492.
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