Thursday, March 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D
   DAYTONA BEACH, USA : Bucknell University students Jessica Jackley, 22, left, Danielle Feriori, 22 , center, and Landon Sulkk, 22, right, react to cheers from the crowd during a spring break body painting contest in Daytona Beach, Fla. AP/PTI
Bucknell University students Jessica Jackley, 22, left, Danielle Feriori, 22 , centre, and Landon Sulkk, 22, right, react to cheers from the crowd during a spring break body painting contest in Daytona Beach, Fla. — AP/PTI

Keep off Taiwan, China warns USA
BEIJING, March 15 — Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji told Taiwan today to shun pro-independence candidates during the Presidential election at the weekend or risk not getting a second chance to vote.

Bush, Gore clinch primaries
AUSTIN (Texas), March 15 — Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George, W. Bush wrapped up their parties’ presidential nominations yesterday, setting the stage for a bitter, contentious and lengthy election campaign.



EARLIER STORIES
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Barak cancels land handover plan
JERUSALEM, March 15 — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday bowed to Right-wing pressure and cancelled plans to give up a West Bank village on Jerusalem’s fringes to Palestinian control.

Cancel Mozambique’s debt: SADC
MAPUTO, March 15 — Southern African leaders have urged western donors to cancel Mozambique’s foreign debt to help it recovery from mass flooding, but aid workers say disease and malnutrition are more immediate threats.

Ex-police chief gets two months’ jail
KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Malaysia’s former police chief was sentenced to two months in jail today for assaulting former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was blindfolded and handcuffed to a jail bed during the attack.

Hajis flock to Arafat
ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia, March 15 — More than two million Muslims gathered at the site of Prophet Mohammad’s last sermon on the plain of Arafat to pray for forgiveness today, the high point of the annual Haj pilgrimage.


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Keep off Taiwan, China’s PM warns USA

BEIJING, March 15 (Reuters) — Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji told Taiwan today to shun pro-independence candidates during the Presidential election at the weekend or risk not getting a second chance to vote.

Mr Zhu added to a succession of threats to use force to achieve reunification, although he said Beijing would prefer a negotiated solution to 50 years of division.

Mr Zhu accused elements in the USA of using the Taiwan issue to thwart China.

‘‘Some people in America always want to use Taiwan to oppose China,’’ he said. ‘‘They view China as a potential enemy; they would be happy to see the Taiwan question drag on indefinitely.’’

But his comments at a news conference appeared to reflect Beijing’s worries that the main Opposition candidate, Mr Chen Shui-Bian, whose party has advocated independence in the past, might win Saturday’s too close to call election in Taiwan.

‘‘Let me advise all those people in Taiwan: do not just act on impulse at this juncture, which will decide the future course that China and Taiwan will follow. Otherwise I’m afraid you won’t get another opportunity to regret,’’ Mr Zhu said.

‘‘We believe in the political wisdom of the people of Taiwan and we trust that our Taiwan compatriots will make the right historical choice,’’ he said.

‘‘No matter who comes into power in Taiwan, Taiwan will never be allowed to be independent.’’ he said. ‘‘This is our bottom line and the will of 1.25 billion Chinese people.’’

Mr Chen of the main Opposition Democratic Progressive Party is locked in a tight three-way race with Vice-President Lien Chan of the ruling Nationalist Party and rebel nationalist candidate James Soong. China has not officially endorsed or vetoed any candidate.

China issued a policy paper last month in which it threatened to use military force against Taiwan if the island dragged its feet indefinitely on reunification talks.

Mr Zhu denied the threat marked a change in China’s policy and dismissed estimations by western military analysts that China was years away from having the aircraft and ships to be able to take well-armed Taiwan.

‘‘People making such calculations don’t know Chinese history,’’ he said. ‘‘The Chinese people are ready to shed blood and sacrifice their lives to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland,’’ he said.

He said advocates of Taiwan independence would ‘‘come to a no good end’’, but tempered slightly his hard-line reiteration of Beijing’s position on the wealthy, democratic island that has been estranged from the Communist mainland since 1949.

‘‘Whoever stands for ‘one China’ will get our support. We can have talks with them and our talks will cover anything.’’

Mr Chen has defended himself, saying he is ‘‘a peacemaker, not a troublemaker’’, and said he would welcome a summit with Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Top


 

Bush, Gore clinch primaries

AUSTIN (Texas), March 15 (Reuters) — Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George, W. Bush wrapped up their parties’ presidential nominations yesterday, setting the stage for a bitter, contentious and lengthy election campaign.

Mr Gore and Mr Bush had effectively won the Democratic and Republican nominations last week with their victories on “super Tuesday,” which forced their rivals, Former Senator Bill Bradley and Senator John McCain of Arizona, out of the race.

They made it official yesterday, easily winning a string of primaries in southern states. As soon as election closed in Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee exit poll projected both men the victors.

Both were also expected to win in Texas where poll closed a little later.

Mr Bush held a huge celebration at a Jewish community centre in Austin, Mr Gore, who voted earlier in Tennessee, travelled to Florida for this victory declaration.

In the past week, both men have focused on the coming general election battle which promises to be an exhausting eight-month marathon. A new Gallup poll published yesterday showed Mr Bush leading Mr Gore by 49-43 per cent.

The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points, showed Mr Bush winning more McCain supporters than Mr Gore, including 80 per cent of the Republicans who supported Mr McCain. Among independents who backed the Arizona Senator, 46 per cent said they now favoured Mr Bush while 37 per cent supported Gore.

Mr Gore voted along with his wife Tipper at River Forks School in Elmwood, Tennessee, a small town near his family’s farm. He told about 150 children and adults who gathered there that he aimed to keep the economy strong and protect the environment.

“I want to be President in order to keep our economy strong”. he said in answer to one child’s, question “I don’t want you to have to worry about big problems like global warming.”

Mr Bush voted by absentee ballot last week in Austin but his parents, former President George Bush and his wife Barbara, voted for their eldest son in Houston.Top


 

Barak cancels land handover plan

JERUSALEM, March 15 (Reuters) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday bowed to Right-wing pressure and cancelled plans to give up a West Bank village on Jerusalem’s fringes to Palestinian control.

“Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak has decided not to include Anata village in the 6.1 per cent (of the West Bank) which is to be handed over to the Palestinians”, Mr Barak’s office said in a statement.

“The Prime Minister stresses that the unity of Jerusalem stands at the top of the list of priorities of his government,” the statement said.

Mr Barak’s embarrassing climbdown over the emotive issue of the future of the holy city came only hours after news leaked to the Israeli media that he intended to transfer control of Anata, stirring the ire of Israeli hardliners who oppose any concessions near Jerusalem.

It came less than 24 hours after his coalition government squeaked to a 47-42 victory in a no-confidence motion in 120-seat Parliament.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Barak’s security Cabinet narrowly approved maps for an overdue Israeli troop withdrawal from the occupied West Bank, his office said. Five ministers voted for the maps, three against while one abstained.

The maps for the 6.1 percent withdrawal, which was due to have taken place in January, are to be presented by chief Israeli negotiator Oded Eran to Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Erakat.

The pullout covers villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem already under Palestinian civilian rule — Beitunia near Ramallah to the north and Ubaydiyah to the southeast near Bethlehem.

Several of the Prime Minister’s coalition partners had lined up against the government on Monday, ostensibly to show dissatisfaction with plans to teach Palestinian poetry in Israeli schools but also to signal to Mr Barak that they had the power to limit his peace options.

Israeli hawks flocked to Jewish settlements near Jerusalem on Tuesday to meet worried residents after Israeli media reported that Anata, near the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, would be included in the next handover of West Bank land.

Later in the day, Mr Barak, repeatedly defended his commitment to a united Jerusalem before the heckling of Right-wing members of the Knesset at a newly instituted question and answer period.

“Barak is casting a Palestinian ring of strangulation around the capital,” said Jewish settlement spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yossef.

Israel radio said the 6.1 per cent handover, postponed since January over differences about which areas would be transferred is expected to take place next week after the maps are approved by Israel’s Cabinet.Top



 

Cancel Mozambique’s debt: SADC

MAPUTO, March 15 (Reuters) — Southern African leaders have urged western donors to cancel Mozambique’s foreign debt to help it recovery from mass flooding, but aid workers say disease and malnutrition are more immediate threats.

Nine presidents and prime ministers, meeting in an emergency summit yesterday, said the international community needed to write off Mozambique’s $ eight billion obligations “to enable it to channel all available resources to the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure”.

That sort of assistance may be necessary but aid workers say there are more immediate concerns with the spread of disease, particularly malaria and cholera, probable if the relief effort is not carefully coordinated and supported.

Aid workers told Reuters that there is acute malnutrition among some young children and say that if seeds are not planted quickly, a food crisis will hit the country.

“We’re seeing acute malnutrition in babies and we’re very concerned. Lack of food and access to clean water weakens their immune system,” said Ian Macleod, emergency coordinator for the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

If seeds for maize and other crops are not planted in the next few weeks, peasant farmers will not be able to reap this year’s harvest, prolonging the food shortage and aggravating the possibility of malnourishment.

In the washed-out town of Chokwe, about 190 km (120 miles) north of Maputo, residents complained on Tuesday of food shortages nearly a month after the rains first hit.

France proposed on Tuesday that sovereign debt claims on Mozambique be postponed and said it was ready to cancel the $ 470 million it is owed as soon as other countries agreed to an overall debt relief plan.

Botswana President Festus Mogae, attending the emergency summit of the Southern African Development Community, said debt write-off was a pre-requisite to a successful recovery from the flooding, and said the impact of the disaster highlighted the vulnerability of southern African economies.

“This disaster shows that the fragility and vulnerability of our economies is real and not just fabricated as a means of getting aid,” he said.

Nearly 2,500 tonnes of food has been delivered in the past three weeks, according to the World Food Programme. Top


 

Ex-police chief gets two months’ jail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 (AP) — Malaysia’s former police chief was sentenced to two months in jail today for assaulting former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was blindfolded and handcuffed to a jail bed during the attack.

Abdul Rahim Noor, who pleaded guilty was convicted yesterday, and fined 2,000 ringgit ($ 526). But he didn’t go to jail, as the court granted him bail until the appeal on his sentencing is heard. No date was set for the appeal.

Abdul Rahim, 56, sat without any expression in the court as Sessions Court Judge Akhtar Tahir read his decision to place him behind bars for two months.

“The punishment will serve as a lesson to the police, who are responsible for ensuring peace in the nation,” the judge said.

Although it was the first time a former police chief had been sentenced to jail in Malaysia, the ruling was criticised as being too light for the brutal assault which shocked Malaysians and drew international condemnation.

“The sentence is manifestly inadequate. Here is an inspector general of police who assaulted a defenceless man who was blindfolded and handcuffed,” said Mr Karpal Singh, Anwar’s lawyer in an ongoing sodomy trial.

An official of the opposition National Justice Party, formed by Anwar’s wife, said that while ordinary Malaysians receive harsher sentences for peacefully protesting against the government, Abdul Rahim was not even required to go to jail right away. Top


 

Hajis flock to Arafat

ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia, March 15 (AFP) — More than two million Muslims gathered at the site of Prophet Mohammad’s last sermon on the plain of Arafat to pray for forgiveness today, the high point of the annual Haj pilgrimage.

The faithful poured in by bus and on foot from a tent city in Mina, outside Mecca in western Saudi Arabia, where they spent the night. Many carried umbrellas to keep off the sun, as the temperature reached 29 Celsius.

“Here I am, Allah, answering your call. There is no other God but you,” they chanted in unison, repeatedly, as they converged on Arafat.

They assembled for the “standing” on the Mount of Mercy (Jabal al-Rahma) for the climax of the 1,400-year-old journey of faith, spending the entire day praying for mercy in a symbolic enactment of the final judgement.Top



 
WORLD BRIEFS

Kennedy arraigned for murder
STAMFORD (CONNECTICUT): A nephew of the late Robert F. Kennedy was on Tuesday arraigned on a murder charge dating from nearly 25 years ago. In a case that captured international headlines when the charges were filed in January, Michael Skakel (39) was arraigned as a juvenile because he was 15 at the time Martha Moxley, also 15, was murdered. In a brief courtroom appearance, Skakel heard the charge against him and then turned to Moxley’s mother and said, “you have the wrong guy”. A hearing was scheduled for June 20. — DPA

Myanmar army seizes drugs
YANGON: Myanmar authorities seized almost two million methamphetamine tablets and 100 kilograms of hydrochloride, a chemical used for making the stimulants and arrested six persons in Karen state, news reports have said. A joint team of soldiers and local intelligence authorities on Monday uncovered the haul of 1.98 million tablets hidden in a Toyota van and Nissan truck stopped for inspection at Waboo Taw checkpoint, near Hapan city in Karen state, 150 kg east of Yangon. — DPA

Careless mother jailed
FORT WORTH (TEXAS): A woman whose infant son died of heatstroke after she left him alone inside a hot car while she went on a drinking binge has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, news reports said on Tuesday. A Texas jury found Sandra Arteaga (30) guilty of negligence for leaving her months-old son inside the car, which was parked at a gas station on a scorching July day last year. The maximum sentence for the crime was 20 years. — DPA

Ex-PM jailed for 18 years
ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court on Tuesday jailed former Prime Minister Tamerat Layne for 18 years, on conviction of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of office. Tamerat had headed a transition government between May 1991, the month rebel armies ousted military dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, and August 1995. Tamerat was charged at the beginning of 1997. — AFP

Reporters win libel suit
LONDON: Two television reporters who were accused of faking prison camp pictures in Bosnia have won damages in their libel suit against a low-circulation political magazine. A jury awarded 375,000 to Independent Television News and reporters Penny Marshall and Ian Williams in their suit against Living Marxism, a British political magazine. At issue was ITN’s pictures of a Muslim, Fikret Alic, standing behind barbed wire at a Serbian camp in Trnopolje in 1992. — AP

Woman seeks sex before divorce
LUSAKA:
A 32-year-old Zambian housewife told a court she wanted to have sex with her husband one last time before divorcing him, local newspapers said. The Daily Mail said Goretti Muyutu had told the high court in the town of Chingola that tribal tradition obliged her husband John Sakapenda (35) to “be a partner in a sexual union” before the divorce could be considered. The judges refused to grant Murutu’s wish, saying it was clear the couple were no longer in love, and granted the divorce. — Reuters
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