S. African Parliament Elects Mbeki President

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Mingling African rhythms and legislative pomp, South Africa's Parliament chose Thabo Mbeki as the nation's second freely elected president.

Mbeki was nominated unanimously. When Constitutional Court chief Arthur Chaskalson announced that Mbeki had been elected unopposed, President Nelson Mandela and the legislators broke into thunderous applause and chanted "Mbeki, Mbeki!"

The transfer of power became palpable when Mandela -- who officially retires Wednesday -- stood up from the presidential bench and gestured for Mbeki, his deputy president, to take his place. Mbeki walked from the podium where he had just delivered his first address as president-elect.

Ethiopia, Eritrea Report Gains in Border Fighting

ASMARA, Eritrea -- Ethiopian and Eritrean army units battled along their border for a fifth day, with both sides claiming they had inflicted heavy losses.

Eritrea said its forces had shot down two Ethiopian MiG-23 jet fighters and killed, wounded or captured more than 12,000 soldiers since the latest fighting began last Thursday.

Ethiopia also said fighting was heavy yesterday but disputed Eritrea's claims of military success and said it had the upper hand.

S. Africa Deflects Report on Congo Peace Plan

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South Africa played down a report that it has brokered a peace deal for the civil war in Congo and has promised to provide peacekeepers.

Newsweek magazine, in its June 21 issue, which hit newsstands yesterday, reported that Thabo Mbeki will unveil a provisional peace deal Wednesday at his inauguration as South Africa's new president.

A spokesman for Mbeki would comment on the report only by saying Zambian President Frederick Chiluba was in charge of mediating the civil war in Congo.


Suriname's Leader Calls for Early Elections

PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- The president has called early elections in a last-minute bid to avoid being ousted by opponents frustrated by the South American nation's economic meltdown.

President Jules Wijdenbosch delivered a television address Sunday in which he pledged that elections would take place no later than May 25, 2000. Elections in the former Dutch colony had been scheduled for 2001.

Salinas Ends Visit, Slips Out of Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Disgraced former president Carlos Salinas slipped out of the country, ending a surprise 48-hour visit to Mexico that stirred up protests over his first return home in more than four years.

Salinas, whose legacy was soiled by an economic crisis and the arrest of his brother for murder shortly after he left office at the end of 1994, shocked Mexico with his weekend return from Ireland, where he lives in self-exile.

Three More Brazilian Jails Hit by Escapes

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- More than 80 inmates, including 15 juvenile offenders, broke out of three prisons in Sao Paulo state over the weekend, just a week after 345 men made the biggest jailbreak in Brazilian history in Campinas, police said.

In the escape from a penitentiary in Campinas early last Sunday, 64 prisoners fled after four armed men stormed the main gate and took the security guard hostage, a police spokesman said.

Venezuelan Economy Falls With Oil Prices

CARACAS, Venezuela -- The Venezuelan economy declined nearly 10 percent during the first quarter of 1999, news reports said.

A Central Bank official, who was not identified in the reports, said the institution would not deny the report. Official confirmation of the 9.8 percent figure was expected today, he said. The contraction was due mostly to a precipitous drop in the price of oil, Venezuela's main export product.


India, Pakistan Trade Accusations Over Kashmir

NEW DELHI -- Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said India is willing to hold further talks with Pakistan only if Islamabad stops violating the Line of Control dividing the disputed region of Kashmir.

But Pakistan accused India of slamming all doors to dialogue and said Islamabad would continue its peace efforts.

President Clinton telephoned Vajpayee to express his appreciation for New Delhi's restraint in Kashmir, a Himalayan region claimed by both countries, a spokesman for the prime minister's office said.


Iraqi Delegates Ask Iran to Release POWs

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq, which last week accused Iran of firing missiles into its territory and of being behind a car blast that killed seven people, sent a parliamentary delegation to Tehran to discuss prisoners of the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, newspapers reported.

"The delegation will discuss with Iranian officials pending issues related to the Iraqi prisoners of war and will demand Iran . . . accelerate their release," the newspapers said.

Iraq denounced Iran for launching three missiles across their common border last week, hitting a camp used by the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen Khalq. The papers did not say whether the Iraqi MPs would discuss the missile attack.


"Although she is stupid, she loves people."

Indonesian Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, describing opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri -- Page A23