|Monday, April 17, 2000,
arrives in Paris
hardens stand in Elian case
sets terms for Arafat
not serious about peace
tragedy probe mission in Colombo
rebels attack police posts
Mugabe refuses to order end to
white farms occupation
HARARE, April 16 Zimbabwes President Robert Mugabe arrived home to a mounting political crisis today and told white farmers not to resist an illegal land-grab by war veterans.
The two-month-old occupation of about 500 white-owned farms by war veterans of the 70s liberation movement threatened to spiral out of control late yesterday when a crowd abducted and killed a white farmer.
Another two white farmers were reported missing today and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said two of its members had been killed overnight.
I know there is an expectation that I will say to the war veterans get off the land. I will not say or do that, Mr Mugabe told about 1,000 supporters who welcomed him home from the Group of 77 economic summit in Cuba.
His comments dashed hopes that he would back a call by Vice-President Joseph Msika last week for war veterans to leave the farms and await a formal land distribution process.
The occupations have twice been ruled illegal by the Zimbabwe High Court.
Three Cabinet Ministers went to rural areas during the weekend to encourage the termination of the land grab. Some occupiers did leave, but farmers in Marondera district, east of Harare, said they had been told to pack and leave by tonight.
Mr Mugabe (76) in power for 20 years, said he would meet war veterans and white commercial farmers to map the way forward.
But he said the occupations would continue until a formal land redistribution strategy had been negotiated and implemented.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, on a visit to India, said he would summon Zimbabwes High Commissioner to London to explain yesterdays murder and to urge the restoration of law and order.
We will be demanding that the government stops the occupation of the farms before there are any more deaths, he said.
Mr Mugabe did not comment directly yesterdays murder in Marondera of a white farmer, David Stevens, a known MDC supporter who resisted the occupation of his farm on Saturday.
But he reiterated his earlier advice to the 4,500 whites who own or control an estimated 75 per cent of the nations best farmland to accept the occupations, saying the government could not protect them.
We have warned the white farmers not to be provocative, not to take up arms, not to resist. If they do that, they will suffer the consequences. You must accept the consequences of your actions because we have warned you, he asserted.
Mr Mugabe said last weeks second court order for the eviction of at least 7,000 war veterans from at least 500 white-owned farms was impractical and inappropriate.
The legal processes will not work... for us in government we see this as a political issue, a colossal problem that requires a political solution. We are trying to get that solution into place right now, he said.
Mr Mugabe also said he hoped parliamentary elections could be held in less than the three months. The delimitation committee said last week it would need to define constituencies. Presidential elections are not scheduled until 2002. Reuters
AP adds: Squatters occupying white-owned land shot a white farmer to death.
David Stevens was abducted from his occupied property near Macheke, 120 east of Harare, the capital, and driven into the bush where he was shot dead, said commercial farmers union officials.
They said Stevens was the first white farmer killed in a tense stand-off between landowners and squatters backed by President Robert Mugabes ruling party.
Four of Stevens neighbours who went to his assistance after he was confronted by squatters, were abducted.
A fifth neighbour,
identified as John Osborne, witnessed the shooting of
Stevens, who was hit in the head and back by shotgun
blasts, the union said. Osborne was beaten by
Stevens assailants and was being treated in a
hospital in the provincial centre of Marondera, union
President arrives in Paris
PARIS, April 16 (PTI) President K.R. Narayanan arrived here this evening on a five-day state visit to France, the first by an Indian Head of State to this country.
The President, who begins his official engagements tomorrow with ceremonial welcome by his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, was received at Orly airport by French Defence Minister Alain Richard.
Mr Narayanan, who is accompanied by his wife Usha, is heading a high-powered delegation including Urban Development Minister Jagmohan and chairman of Indo-French Commission Ramakrishna Hegde, inspected a guard of honour on his arrival.
During his visit, the two countries are likely to sign an investment promotion accord which is expected to remove obstacles in mutual trading.
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said today that the Presidents visit to France, would be a landmark in Indo-French relations.
Mr Narayanan, was seen off at the airport this morning by Vice-President Krishan Kant, Mr Vajpayee, Home Minister L.K. Advani, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Sumitra Mahajan and the three service chiefs among others.
Wishing the President a pleasant and productive journey, Mr Vajpayee in a message said it will be a landmark in Indias relations with France.
I shall closely follow your interactions with French leaders and your many important engagements in that country, Mr Vajpayee said.
visit would provide depth to bilateral ties
coming as it does after the strategic dialogue initiated
between the two countries during Mr Vajpayees visit
to France in September, 1998.
USA hardens stand in Elian case
MIAMI, April 16 (AFP) Supporters of Elian Gonzalezs Miami relatives continue to mount watch outside the family home here, as all sides in the custody battle over the Cuban boy waited for a new Atlanta federal appeals court decision.
The Atlanta court is due to decide tomorrow whether to extend its Thursday injunction, and permanently prevent the six-year-old from being removed from the USA.
However, the US Justice Department has made clear it is moving towards an end to the four-month-long row over Elian, and, if necessary, will use force to reunite Elian with his Cuban father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who arrived in Washington nine days ago.
Filing yet more papers in the Atlanta court on Friday, the INS challenged the Miami familys bid for the temporary injunction on Elians behalf to be made permanent, and argued in favour of returning the boy to his father as soon as possible.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Attorney-General had given the green light for a law enforcement plan, after the family defied its official ultimatum on Thursday, which had ordered the Miami relatives to take Elian to the Opa-Locka airport to be reunited with his father.
Israel sets terms for Arafat
JERUSALEM, April 16 (DPA) Israel will declare that it is ready to accept an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza strip provided Palestinian President Yassir Arafat accepts Israeli conditions, Israeli media reported today.
Quoting a senior political source in Jerusalem, the media named the conditions as no right of return for Palestinian refugees, the existence of Israeli settlement blocks in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip, the demilitarisation of the Palestinian state, and Jerusalem keeping its municipal boundaries.
The Israeli recognition will be within the framework agreement on a peace treaty the sides are currently negotiating, and Israeli officials expect Mr Arafat to reply to this proposal when he meets US President Bill Clinton next week.
Israel and the Palestinians are currently negotiating a final settlement to their dispute, aiming to reach a framework agreement in May and a final peace treaty in September.
Palestinians say the talks must result in an independent state in all of the West Bank and Gaza strip, which Israel captured from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, in the 1967 middle-east war.
Israel, formerly adamantly opposed to an independent Palestinian state in these areas, now accepts that Palestinian independence is the most likely outcome of the talks.
According to todays reports, Israeli minister without portfolio Haim Ramon is leading an initiative in which the Palestinians will receive control of only 70 per cent of the West Bank. Israel will annex 10 per cent and the final status of the remaining 20 per cent will be open for negotiation at a later date.
However, the Israeli
source who served as the basis for the report, indicated
that Israeli Premier Ehud Barak preferred a proposal put
forward by Minister for Regional Cooperation Shimon
Peres, whereby Palestinians will receive 80 per cent of
the West Bank and Israel will retain control of the
remaining 20 per cent.
LTTE not serious about peace
COLOMBO, April 16 (Reuters) Sri Lanka has said that recent negative statements by a top Tamil Tiger leader on proposed constitutional reforms and a call to withdraw troops from the north showed that the guerrillas were not serious about peace.
The Foreign ministry in a statement today said comments made by Anton Balasingham of the LTTE to a London-based Tamil newspaper indicated that the rebels were deviating from their public position in favour of negotiations.
Balasingham told the Tamil Guardian newspaper that Tamils in Sri Lanka were not interested in packages, accords, constitutional reforms which seek structural changes.
President Chandrika Kumaratungas ruling Peoples Alliance is trying to reach consensus with the main opposition United National Party on constitutional reforms that would devolve power to regional councils, including one administered by Tamils, before offering them to the LTTE.
The statement accused Balasingham of sabre rattling and bombastic exaggeration aimed at keeping up the morale of LTTE sympathisers overseas.
It said Balasinghams statements were strange as they came from a person who claimed to be the exclusive interlocutor of the LTTE in the Norwegian government facilitated-effort to resume talks between the Sri Lankan government and the rebels.
Boat tragedy probe mission in Colombo
COLOMBO, April 16 (UNI) Two Indians currently here a mission probing the Malta boat tragedy which claimed the lives of 289 persons four years ago, have urged the authorities here to take action against the travel agents who were responsible for sending the victims after accepting lakhs of rupees from each.
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman and Mehar Singh Hira, General Secretary, respectively, of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, arrived here from Punjab last week to find out the action taken by the Sri Lankan Government against the travel agents who sent 70 youngmen promising employment after taking Rs 2 to Rs 3 lakh from each of them. They have already completed inquiry in India from where 170 were feared drowned on the Christmas night in 1996.
Mr Khera said he wrote several letters to the High Commission of Sri Lanka in India and the Indian High Commission here but no satisfactory reply was received from them and that was the reason why they decided to come here.
Chechen rebels attack police posts
MOSCOW, April 16 (DPA) Chechen rebels attacked police posts in Russian-controlled areas of Chechnya, including one in Grozny, the Russian Interior Ministry said today.
Seven posts had come under rebel fire in a 24-hour period until Sunday morning, the ministry said without giving details of casualties.
Russian military authorities said they planned to keep Grozny closed to civilians until tomorrow.
The commander of the pro-Russian Chechen militia, Mr Bislan Gantarimov, denied reports that large groups of rebels had made their way back into the capital.
die in poison gas attack
mishap kills 30
heckled on safe sex
Ratko Mladic is
in Belgrade: weekly
for Dutch architect
from prostate cancer
Muslims appeals rejected
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