|Friday, July 28, 2000,
Cong passes controversial Bill
in grip of paedophile frenzy
taken hostage, freed
SUVA, July 27 (Reuters) — Unrest spread across Fiji today following the arrest of nationalist rebel leader George Speight, with gunmen briefly taking some 40 ethnic Indians hostage and two New Zealand pilots kidnapped.
The police in the town of Labasa on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island, warned residents to stay indoors as 50 gunmen roamed the streets, shooting indiscriminately and looting shops.
"We are risking our life. We haven’t got any arms or anything like that. We are confronting rebel groups who have arms," a police officer in Labasa said.
The police said some 40 ethnic Indians were rounded up in trucks and taken by gunmen to Labasa’s rebel-held military barracks until the military negotiated their release a few hours later.
At Savusavu airport on Vanua Levu, the New Zealanders working as Air Fiji pilots were kidnapped by gunmen and taken to a nearby village, airport officials said. The pilots were still being held.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Helen Clark called on the Fijian military to secure the pilots’ release and to restore law and order.
"It is completely unsatisfactory for the citizens of another country to be caught up in Fiji’s internal problems," she told Radio New Zealand.
Air New Zealand said it had cancelled flight stopovers in Fiji because of the latest civil unrest, sparked by Speight’s arrest yesterday, news he may face treason charges, and a tear-gas raid by the military on his rebel camp near Suva. More than 300 rebels were captured in the raid.
Fiji’s military said it was in full control and was conducting a "mopping up operation" to arrest more rebels.
But troops beefed up security around Suva’s main military barracks, where Speight was being held, and erected razor wire roadblocks on streets leading to the barracks.
Military spokesman Lieut-Col Filipo Tarakinikini said Speight’s threat of further unrest in Fiji if the ailing 79-year-old President Josefa Iloilo did not name a new rebel-dominated government could be regarded as treason.
"If that is confirmed then that is a treasonous act," he told reporters in Suva.
Treason carries the death penalty, which has never been enforced since independence in 1970.
Several hours after Speight’s arrest, the military raided the Koluba camp near Suva. Among those captured were Speight’s security chief Ilisoni Ligairi, a former special forces commander, and 12 members of Fiji’s special forces who had defected to the rebels.
Caretaker Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said today that Fiji would be ruled by an interim government for three years before new elections.
"Our latest estimate and time frames for new elections is three years," he said.
PRETORIA (PTI): Indian Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh has said the Commonwealth will not tolerate the erosion of democracy, the rule of law and the denial of full rights to all citizens in any member country.
"Any member transgressing good governance and the rule of law will face sanctions of the Commonwealth," Mr Mansingh said, apparently referring to the developments in Fiji.
Mr Mansingh, who was here to
attend a two-day meeting of the 10-nation Commonwealth Prepatory
Committee to chalk out the agenda for their Heads of State mini-summit
in New York next month, said they discussed the Fiji situation while
deliberating the need to strengthen the structure of the Commonwealth.
Israel-Palestine talks ‘soon’
RAMALLAH (West Bank), July 27 (DPA) — The failure of the Camp David peace summit did not mean an end of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and negotiations could be expected to resume soon, a senior Palestinian official said today.
Palestinian Minister for Information Yasser Abed Rabbo told Israel Radio’s Arabic Service that he believed the USA would contact the parties within two weeks to explore the possibility of holding another round of summit talks, in either Washington or in another location.
Mr Rabbo also told Voice of Palestine Radio that Palestinians were ready to resume the negotiations, "but not on the basis discussed at Camp David’’.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Wednesday he expected to resume peace talks with Israel next Sunday and remained confident an agreement could be reached by September.
RIYADH: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said in an interview published today he was ready to renew peace talks with Israel, but warned he would push ahead with plans to declare a Palestinian state next month.
Speaking in the wake of the collapse of the Camp David summit, Mr Arafat told Saudi Arabia’s English-language Saudi Gazette newspaper that he still intended to declare Palestinian statehood by September 13.
"We are again ready to enter into talks, but on the basis of the Palestinian principles and that of land for peace," he said.
"Peace, stability and security cannot be restored to West Asia without the return of Jerusalem to full Palestinian sovereignty and as the capital of the Palestinian state," Mr Arafat said.
Palestinians see Arab East Jerusalem, captured and annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state. Israel says Jerusalem is the Jewish state’s indivisible capital.
Mr Arafat added: "That was what we clearly stated and what we insist on. We demand full sovereignty over Jerusalem and will not accept any role or status other than full sovereignty over Jerusalem and not an inch will be surrendered."
Talks between Mr Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, which were brokered by President Bill Clinton, broke down early on Tuesday over the issue of Jerusalem, although both sides said progress was made on the borders of a Palestinian state, the return of Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlements.
"Yes, yes the declaration of a Palestinian state still stands, and at this time, with minor adjustments...that is, the declaration of the state begins to take shape from September 13 and will take full embodiment on the ground," Mr Arafat told the daily.
Lawmakers in the US Congress on Wednesday threatened to introduce legislation to cut off aid to the Palestinian authority if Arafat unilaterally declared a Palestinian state.
Pro-Israeli lawmakers have blamed Mr Arafat for the failure of the marathon peace talks, accusing him of refusing to make the courageous concessions needed to achieve a lasting peace.
Mr Arafat said he considered the failure of the summit a "triumph to the will of the Palestinian people" and that the Palestinians’ stand "made us strong despite the failure".
"Let me clarify to you and the Saudi and Arab people that I don’t bear the responsibility for the failure of the Camp David summit because the Palestinians have fundamental principles which they can’t relinquish,’’ Mr Arafat said.
who contributed to the failure of the Camp David summit is Ehud Barak...the
insistence of Barak on his five ‘nos’ was the main reason behind
the failure of the summit simply because Mr Barak came to the summit
carrying with him these five ‘nos’," he added without
Lanka meeting with Oppn put off
COLOMBO, July 27 (UNI) — Amid speculation of a possible breakdown in the talks on constitutional proposals, a meeting between the Sri Lankan Government and the Opposition scheduled for today has been postponed.
While informing the Opposition about the postponement, no reason was given for the sudden decision, party sources said.
Sources attribute the absence of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is abroad on a personal visit, for the postponement.
Ms Kumaratunga had indicated that the proposed reforms would be introduced in Parliament in the first week of August.
In the face of strong Opposition, especially from the Maha Sangha and Sinhala Buddhist groups, the UNP had said the party would not support the constitutional reforms if presented to Parliament before August 24, since the whole country was in the dark about the reforms and there was not adequate time to adopt a new constitution.
UNP media spokesman Karunasena Kodituwakku had said the party would abstain from voting if the constitutional reforms were rushed through prior to the general election.
In another significant
development, more than 3,000 Buddha "Bhikkuas" and others
were planning to stage protest on August 1 against the new
constitution proposals. A statement issued by the National Sangha
Convention said both government and the UNP who came to power from the
majority Sinhala Buddhist people were trying to bring the new
constitutional reforms in a hurry. The proposed constitution would
take away the rights of the Sinhalese and the country would be
divided, they said.
11 LTTE rebels killed
COLOMBO, July 27 (PTI) — The Sri Lankan Army said today that 11 rebels and a police constable were killed in skirmishes between troops and the LTTE in the country’s North and East.
Rebel transmissions confirmed
that six guerrillas were killed and eight injured in Tuesday’s
offensive by troops at Sarasalai in Jaffna peninsula, where the army
had reportedly advanced 500 metres into the LTTE-held areas, a press
Concorde’s second black box decoded
PARIS, July 27 (AP) — French investigators finished decoding the second black box today on the Concorde supersonic jet that crashed and killed 113 people, but it could take up to three days to complete the analysis of the fatal flight, the French Transport Ministry said.
The ministry said there were 600 bits of technical information on the recovered flight data recorder (FDR) that had to be analysed and then be compared with information decoded earlier from the other black box, the cockpit voice recorder.
In another development, the French prosecutor’s office opened a judicial inquiry into "involuntary homicide and involuntary injury" relating to the accident, judicial sources speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said.
Involuntary homicide in France is defined as a negligent killing punishable by up to three years in prison, or $ 43,000 fine. The three judges in the case have the legal right to call witnesses to determine the circumstances of the accident.
Meanwhile, French authorities were preparing the Madeleine church in central Paris for a memorial service later in honour of the victims. The church, which resembles a Greek temple, is a famous landmark.
Mr Raymond Auffray, an engineer
and aeronautics expert at Paris’ Court of Appeal, told the daily La
Croix that technical investigations should focus on turbine discs
inside both engines on the left wing, including the number No. 2
engine that caught fire shortly before takeoff in the accident
Nepali Cong passes controversial Bill
KATHMANDU, July 27 (DPA) — The ruling Nepali Congress Party has bulldozed the controversial sixth amendment to the Nepalese Citizenship Act of 1963 through Parliament despite a public demonstration and opposition from all other political parties, reports said today.
In the voting that took place in the 205 member lower House of Parliament late last night, the amendment was carried because of 108 Nepali Congress ‘’yes’’ votes.
The main opposition party, the Communist United Marxist-Leninists (UML), other smaller Communist groups and the National Democratic Party boycotted the proceedings because of their opposition to the Bill.
Britain in grip of paedophile frenzy
LONDON, July 27 (Reuters) — When Sarah Payne vanished from a Sussex cornfield a month ago, few could have guessed that Britain was heading into a summer of paedophile frenzy.
But when the July 1 routine "missing person’s inquiry" turned into a grisly murder hunt, the search for sex offenders, real and imagined, took on a life of its own.
Vigilante groups took justice into their own hands and attacked the innocent in their homes, sure they had stumbled upon child molesters dressed up as decent people.
The media, tapping into fears that the police and the courts would not track down and punish the criminals, printed a rogue’s gallery of perverts who had abused an untold number of children and appeared to have stolen the innocence of all British youth.
The government urged caution as the witch hunt gathered pace, but the public only clamoured louder for more scalps in their fight for a safer, simpler way of growing up.
"Does a monster live near you?" asked the News of the World newspaper, which promised a campaign to "name and shame" Britain’s 110,000 child sex offenders.
Never mind that the number of known sex offenders is wide open for debate or that cases of child murder by strangers have not risen in a quarter of a century.
The child protection charity Kidscape said five to seven youngsters are murdered by strangers each year and the police claims to have the most successful sex offender register in the world.
holocaust settlement cleared
new Mongolian PM
quarters docked to ISS
media baron dropped
arrest key military commander
In jail for ‘romancing’
pilot was first windsurfer
ex-warlord living in London
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