Thursday, June 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

End to Fiji crisis imminent

SUVA, June 21 (AFP) — A deal to end Fiji’s coup crisis is set to be signed tomorrow, clearing the way for the release of elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and other hostages who have been held in Parliament for 33 days, sources told AFP today.

There was no official confirmation that the crisis was near resolution, but the sources said coup leader George Speight and armed forces chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama would sign an agreement on an interim civil government tomorrow morning.

Retired banker Laisenia Qarase was expected to be named Prime Minister. The agreement will trigger the release of Speight’s 31 hostages — Mr Chaudhry, his aides and most of his government.

They were seized on May 19 when Speight and a gang of special forces troops stormed Parliament and said they were deposing Mr Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian, in the name of indigenous Fijians. Ten days later the army declared martial law and has been negotiating with Speight ever since.

Fiji Television said the agreement between the military and Speight would be signed at 3 a.m IST tomorrow.

Martial law spokesman Colo Filipo Tarakinikini told Fiji TV that the “moment” was near.

Speight spokesman Jo Nata said it was the closest the two sides had come.

“We are all hoping that could be the case, we all want to go home for the weekend. We have been sleeping on floors for the last four weeks and it’s not comfortable, I can tell you that,” he said. A high-level international committee preparing for the release of the hostages has also been advised to complete its work by today.

Earlier in the day, Speight said they were trying for a deal by the end of the week. The agreement will also provide amnesty for Speight and his immediate plotters as well as a return of stolen military arms. 


India wins case against Pakistan

THE HAGUE, June 21 (PTI) — India won a major legal victory today against Pakistan when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Islamabad’s case and ruled that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute raised by Pakistan regarding shooting down of its naval aircraft in the Kutch region last August.

The 16-Judge Bench in a 14 : 2 decision dismissed Pakistan’s application seeking $ 16 million damages for shooting down of the French-built Atlantique aircraft uphelding India’s objections to the court’s assumption of jurisdiction.

The decision was announced by ICJ President Gilbert Guillaume of France at a public sitting here.

The President also briefly outlined the reasons behind the court’s keenly awaited ruling for nearly one hours before declaring the case as closed.

Judge Al-Khasawnch of Jordan and ad-joe judge Syed Prizada of Pakistan gave dissenting judgement. Judges Shigeur oda of Japan, Abdul Koroma of Sierra Leone and ad hoc Judge B P Jeevan Reddy of India appended separate opinions backing the judgement.

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