|Monday, June19, 2000,
Fijis army hopeful
Decision on AJT soon
Eelam belongs to Muslims,
Ethiopia, Eritrea sign peace deal
March in Cuba for
Computer hard drives being
Robotic prizes for Indians
Haitian EC chief flees country
Pak cuts defence spending in
Lankan army chief to visit Pak
Jordans King sacks PM
Fijis army hopeful
SUVA, June 18 (Agencies) Fijis military government today raised hopes for an imminent end to the countrys four-week old hostage crisis, saying that the only obstacle remaining was the demand by Nationalist rebels to be part of a new civilian administration.
Military spokesman Lieut Col Filipo Tarakinikini said the armed forces hoped to be able to achieve a resolution "within the next few days" to the crisis which has toppled Fijis elected government and crippled its economy.
Armed gunmen led by businessman George Speight burst into Fijis Parliament on May 19 and took 31 people hostage, including the countrys first ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.
The rebels are demanding that only indigenous Fijians should run the island nation, where ethnic Indians make up 45 per cent of the population. The military declared martial law 10 days ago and took control of the country after growing unrest.
"We are more optimistic now that we are coming towards a resolution," Colonel Tarakinikini told local television after another day of talks in the Capital Suva.
"The point of contention continues to remain the amount of participation that Speight and his group want in the interim administration," he said. The military has said Speights team would be represented on a new body to change the countrys multi-racial Constitution, which led to the election of Mr Chaudhrys government last year.
However, it has insisted that the rebel leader is not welcome in the interim administration, due to take over in about three months, although some of his nominees will be considered.
Meanwhile, trade bans imposed by unions in Australia and New Zealand in protest against the rebel coup have begun to hit Fiji, and tourists are steering clear of the countrys resorts.
The Ministry of Labour says that more than 4,000 jobs have been lost in the past four weeks.
WELLINGTON: George Speight has accused the international media of unfair reporting, according to a news report on Sunday.
Speight said members of the international media were not reporting his side of the story accurately and fairly and that he would no longer defend his actions to them, Radio New Zealand reported.
Speight, a failed businessman who was awaiting trial on extortion and currency charges when he acted, claims that he represents indigenous Fijians whose rights were being eroded by the ethnic Indian Chaudhry and his multi-racial government.
He said he would continue to talk only to Fijian journalists who understand his position, Radio New Zealand said.
The military took over on May 29, declaring martial law, and bowed to rebel demands to revoke the 1997 Constitution that allowed a multi-racial government to be elected.
SUVA: Virmati Chaudhary, wife of Fijis ethnic Indian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry on Sunday said she is praying for her husband and son held hostage along with 31 others by rebels and that she would forgive rebel leader George Speight for kidnapping him. "The Lord has saved me and I know that he will save my family," his wife said.
Decision on AJT soon
LONDON, June 18 (PTI) The Indian Government is expected to take a final decision shortly on the deal to purchase advance jet trainers (AJT).
Defence Minister George Fernandes, who left last night for Delhi after a four-day visit and extensive talks here, told reporters that the IAF would have a major say in the choice of the AJT.
"It is the IAF which is handling this issue. I have set up a committee comprising IAF and Army personnel. I have left it to the IAF to decide about the aircraft. Once they take the decision it will be enforced," he said.
Two major contenders in the fray are the British Hawk advance jet trainer fully backed by the British Government and the French Alfa jet made by Dassault Aviation Company.
Though Mr Fernandes said that he was not here to discuss any procurement-related matters, the issue did come up during his discussions with Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon. A spokesman of the British Defence Ministry told PTI: "We are hopeful of clinching the Hawk deal in due course."
Mr Fernandes, who had a "chat" with British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday said he was satisfied with the visit. He said Mr Blair accepted the invitation he had extended on behalf of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and had expressed keenness to visit India.
Mr Fernandes also acknowledged the fact that Indo-British relations had taken an upturn recently. "We feel that we only need to build on it", he said.
The Defence Minister said the two countries had also agreed to have further cooperation in matters of training and exchange of visits.
Eelam belongs to
COLOMBO, June 18 (UNI) In a significant development, the LTTE has said "Tamil Eelam belongs to the Muslims and the Tamil people" and has sought the cooperation of the community to strengthen the Tamil-Muslim relationship.
Political analysts consider the LTTE move as "significant" as it comes at a time when the government and the Opposition are parleying on how and when a referendum should be held in the Tamil-populated north and the Muslim-dominated east on the merger of the two.
The LTTE has also warned the Muslims to be vigilant against "a campaign of division" between them and the Tamil people in the east.
"Tamil Eelam belongs to the Muslims and the Tamil people", the LTTE said in a leaflet in Tamil titled "Dear Muslim Brothers/Sisters" distributed widely in the eastern Batticaloa and Ampara districts.
Sinhala chauvinist forces, however, are telling Muslims that a war will break out in the Eastern Province very soon and that Muslims face an imminent danger from the Tigers who will force them out of the east.
They, therefore, urge the Muslim youth to join the army to fight the Tigers and prevent the imminent threat to their community.
However, the LTTE countered the issue saying: "Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, we urge you to think clearly about this vicious effort by the dark forces of Sinhala chauvinism. The Muslims need not be concerned about the imminent war of liberation as falsely propagated by the Sinhalese."
The Sri Lankan armed forces are currently suffering from a severe shortage of manpower. Sinhala youth are not ready to join the forces and repeated amnesties to deserters have been complete failures.
The LTTE said Muslims should be aware that Sinhala chauvinists, who are wanting to join hands even with the devil to destroy the Tigers, would not hesitate to ruin the cordial relations between Tamils and Muslims.
"Muslims should identify these elements. Regardless of all this, Tamil Eelam belongs to the Muslims and the Tamil people. We urge your cooperation in strengthening the Tamil-Muslim relationship and also urge you to be vigilant in identifying the insidious designs of the Sinhala government," the LTTE stated.
PTI adds: The Sri Lankan President has decided not to refer the draft of the new constitution to the LTTE until it is ratified by Parliament, as she reached a broad agreement with the Opposition on the unit of devolution to demarcate the contentious North and Eastern provinces.
While the official media here today focused on the broad agreement reached between President Kumaratunga and UNP leader Ranil Wrikamasinghe on the unit of devolution, The Sunday Times newspaper said the President decided not to submit the draft constitution to the rebels before she tabled it in Parliament for ratification.
The Sunday Times said both the government and the Opposition reached an understanding to set up an interim administration in the north and east for a limited period of three years after which a referendum would be held in eastern areas to ascertain whether people preferred to stay with the north or as a separate province.
Unlike the north, Sri Lankas east has mixture of Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese.
While the government would continue with the present temporary merger of the north and east as a basis for the unit of devolution to start with, a referendum would be conducted in eastern areas like Trincomalee and Batticaloa to find whether people wanted to stay put with the north.
"Until such time the referendum is held, an interim council would be established to administer the currently merged north and eastern provinces," the state-owned Sunday Observer said.
But it did not mention what would happen to the fate of a south-eastern provincial council to be set up after being carved out from the Muslim-dominated district of Ampara in the east.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), a senior partner in the Chandrika coalition has been demanding the formation of such a province to protect the interests of the Muslims.
The decision on the formation of the interim council and unit devolution follows last weeks visit of External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who had strongly advised the Lankan government and the UNP here to speed up the process of formation of the new constitution giving proper legal guarantees to autonomy and equal rights for minority Tamils.
Following this, Ms Kumaratunga had announced June 30 as the cut-off date for consultations on the formation of the new constitution.
However, the UNP registered its disagreement with the government on the decision to bypass the LTTE and submit the constitutional proposals to Parliament. Ruling party sources argued that such a consultative process with the LTTE would delay the entire exercise further.
This would also give time to the UNP to come up with fresh objections. "Therefore, the government wants the process to be over by the end of next month, after which Parliament could either be dissolved or its term extended depending on the willingness of the LTTE to join the peace process," they said.
Under the present constitution, Parliaments term ends in August this year after which elections have to be held.
Although Ms Kumaratunga
has been asking her party men to be ready to face the
poll, officials did not rule out the postponement of the
elections in view of the delicate constitutional exercise
Ethiopia, Eritrea sign peace deal
ALGIERS, June 18 (Reuters) The Foreign Ministers of Ethiopia and Eritrea today signed a peace plan brokered by the Organisation of African Unity to end their two-year border war.
Algerian television showed Seyoum Mesfin of Ethiopia and Haile Woldensae of Eritrea signing the accord.
Algerian President and current Oau Chairman Abdelaziz Bouteflika and special envoys from the USA and the European Union attended the signing ceremony at the Peoples Palace in Algiers.
The peace plan calls for an immediate ceasefire and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in a 25-km buffer zone until the disputed border is demarcated.
March in Cuba for Elians return
HAVANA, June 18 (AFP) More than 300,000 Cubans marched in the central city of Camaguey to demand the immediate return of six-year-old shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez, caught up in a legal custody battle in the United States of Annerica.
General Raul Castro, who is brother to Cuban President Fidel Castro and who holds second-ranking position in the Cuban government, took part in the rally yesterday, broadcast live, on Cuban national television.
The march, considered one of the biggest held in land since December, comes on the heels of a march on Monday in Havana in which Fidel Castro joined some 200,000 Cuban children demonstrating in front of the us Interests section.
The main, Communist Party newspaper Granma International said yesterday that the boys Miami relatives and their supporters in Floridas Cuban exile community want to drag the case on until after November us presidential and legislative elections.
"The relatives and
the Cuban American National Foundation hope that a new
government in Washington and a new attorney general will
revoke a decision by the Immigration and Naturalisation
Service that Elian should return to his homeland with his
father," the paper said.
Computer hard drives being examined
WASHINGTON, June 18 (AP) Federal investigators are closely examining two computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets that were found at the Los Alamos weapons laboratory, believing they are the ones missing for more than a month. They want to determine whether the information has been compromised.
The authorities hoped to discover whether the two drives definitely are the same ones that disappeared and, after an electronic examination, learn whether the contents have been copied or otherwise tampered with, said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The two devices, each about the size of a deck of cards, contain highly technical information that would be used by a nuclear emergency response team to locate and dismantle not only US, but some Russian and other countries nuclear devices in case of a accident or terrorist act.
"They were found in
a secure area. The area is being treated as a crime
scene," Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said at a
news conference in Phoenix, where he was informed of the
discovery on Friday while holding a meeting on summer
electricity reliability. Mr Richardson said the two
devices were found within the secure division x area of
the New Mexico weapons lab in an area that had been
searched previously. Another official, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, said they were discovered behind
a copying machine.
Kashmiri Council seeks NGO status
IN an apparent misrepresentation of its aims and objectives, the Kashmiri American Council has sought special consultative status as a Non-Governmental Organisation with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), but has met with opposition from India and the Russian Federation on the ground that its goal of separatism runs counter to the principles of the UN Charter.
But Pakistan came out in support of its application with the contention that the Kashmiri American Council was not a separatist group. The Committee on NGOs, currently holding sittings at the UN headquarters on a series of applications from NGOs from different parts of the world, decided to defer taking action on the application of the Kashmiri American Council based in Washington, pending the submission of further questions by members of the committee to it and the responses to those questions by the organisation. The India representative told the NGO committee that some of the initial questions posed to the Kashmiri American Council had not been answered in the response received. Also, the application stated that the right to self-determination, including independence, was a legitimate goal of the Kashmiri people. That did not sit very well with the principles of the UN Charter.
The representative of the Russian federation said that once again there was an NGO before members advocating separatism. The committee needed to be cautious and stick to the relevant ECOSOC resolution.
The Pakistan representative argued that the Committee was a technical one and should be mindful not to touch on political issues. He felt, however, that the work being done by the Kashmiri American Council, in terms of advocacy and raising awareness, was commendable whatever its objectives. Pakistan did not have any problem supporting the organisation, he said.
The Kashmiri American Council, which has been actively lobbying with Congresmen and Senators on Capitol Hill for many years now in support of an independent Kashmir, has spelt out as its chief aim international education and the promotion of the principles of human rights and human dignity the Universal, Declaration of Human Rights, self-determination and fundamental freedoms for all, irrespective of racial, religious and cultural preferences. It claims that its special concern is the religious of international human rights norms.
Meanwhile, the NGO Committee has decided to grant special consultative status to the Ahmedabad Womens Action Group a national NGO, based in the Gujarat capital, and to the Institute of International Social Development, based in Calcutta.
The Ahmedabad Womens Action Group is active in the area of raising womens awareness to their individuality and leading them to demand equality and social justice.
The Institute of
International Social Development aims at propagating the
aims and objectives of the United Nations to enhance the
slogan "One Earth One Family". It has projects
like SUKIKSHA, which is a year long literacy mission for
underprivileged women in developing and underdeveloped
countries, so that they can become self-reliant
financially, socially and intellectually.
Robotic prizes for Indians
WASHINGTON, June 18 (PTI) A team of Indian students from Lucknow have won this years world championship at the millennium beam robotic games which concluded at Calgary in Canada.
The students of the City Montesori School, Lucknow have won a total of 5 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze, thus capturing the overall team championship.
The winning team represented by Yousuf Fauzan, Diwakar Shukla, Vaibhav Pankaj, Devvrat Shukla and Chetan Mehrotra, was led by the school Principal, Sadhna Chooramani.
The "beam" stands for biology, electronics, aesthetics and mathematics was founded by the well-known scientist Mark W. Tilden of the US Los Alamos National Science Laboratory.
The school, which first started robotics in 1990, as a hobby to teach students practical sciences has had winners in the past few years.
Yousuf Fauzan and Vaibhv Pankaj won a gold medal in the aqua robotics category while Diwakar Shukla and Chetan Mehrotra won the silver medal in the same event.
Diwakar Shukla won a gold medal for his robot "Prabhakar" in the photovore category and another gold for his robot "Bhaskar" in the solaroller category, while Yousuf Fauzan won a gold for his Robot "Kiran" in the therenback category.
Yousuf also won a gold in the solarbotics category and a silver for his robot "Shukla Agni" in the event "wellhead blowout extinguisher." Pankaj Vaibhav won another silver in the category "innovation machine" while Yousuf also won a silver medal for his robot "Akshay" in the event "autonomous".
Haitian EC chief flees country
PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Haiti), June 18 (AP) The President of Haitis Electoral Council has fled his violence-prone country, fearing for his life after he refused to sign election results for last months contested polling, sources said.
Mr Leon Manus sought asylum in an unidentified foreign mission Friday afternoon and crossed the border of the neighbouring Dominican Republic yesterday en route to the United States of America, where his children live, two diplomats and a Haitian Cabinet Minister told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Senior government officials had instructed the 78-year-old former appeals court judge to sign the final election results. When he refused, they threatened him, the diplomats said.
More than 20 lakh Haitians cast votes on May 21 - the largest ever to vote in legislative elections in this country - despite threats of violence at the polls.
The 60 per cent turnout was largely seen as a demand for the restoration of democracy in a country long ruled by military and civilian dictatorships.
Pak cuts defence spending in budget
ISLAMABAD, June 18 (AP) Pakistans army-led government unveiled a $ 13 billion Budget yesterday that laid out a three-year financial game plan to reduce the deficit, increase investment and improve the growth rate.
In its first Budget since seizing power last October from Pakistans civilian rulers, the military regime promised that within three years it will increase investment by 18 per cent, reduce the deficit to 3.2 per cent, which this year will be 4.6 per cent and increase the growth rate to six per cent, from this years 4.3 per cent.
This years budget announced in a televised address to the nation by the Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz sought to control military spending, despite increases by it rival India.
Defense was allocated $ 2.47 billion, roughly one quarter of the total $ 13 billion Budget. This compares to last years bigger defense Budget of $ 2.65 billion or about 6.8 per cent more than this year.
However, analysts say that the apparent decrease in defense spending is deceptive because last year Pakistan included pension payouts in its Budget. This year the military regime withdrew those payments from its defense Budget and transferred them to another category under civilian expenses.
Lankan army chief to visit Pak
COLOMBO, June 18 (PTI) Sri Lankan Army chief Lt-Gen Srilal Weerasurya will visit Islamabad on June 20 to brief Pakistans military ruler Gen Pervaiz Musharraf on the prevailing military situation in northern Jaffna Peninsula, media reports said here today.
The visit of Weerasurya,
who underwent training in the National Defence College of
Pakistan together with General Musharraf, is also viewed
here as a measure of Pakistans support to the
Lankan government during the current round of military
crisis following intensification of LTTE attacks in
Jaffna, The Sunday Times newspaper said.
Jordans King sacks PM
AMMAN, June 18 (Reuters) Jordans King Abdullah today dismissed conservative Prime Minister Abdul-Raouf Al-Rawabdeh and replaced him with a liberal-leaning politician with strong business credentials, officials said.
of Pisa opened
Honour for Swraj
support for gays
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