Panel Fails to Endorse Indonesian Vote Count

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's election commission failed today to endorse the results of the June 7 parliamentary election as official, a senior commission member said.

Andi Mallarangeng said the matter would be referred to President B.J. Habibie for a decision.

Representatives of all five major parties and 12 minor parties signed the results, as did five government representatives on the commission. But two-thirds of the commission's 53 members had to sign for the count to be declared valid, and a number of smaller parties appeared to be withholding their approval.

It was not immediately clear what would happen next. Each of the 48 parties that contested the first truly multiparty poll in two generations has a representative on the commission. But most will not gain any seats in the new parliament and have been accused of obstructing the count out of sour grapes.

Unofficial results released about 10 days ago showed opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's party as the winner, with 33.7 percent of the vote. Habibie's Golkar party was a distant second, with 22.4 percent.

Nobelist Fears Army Action in East Timor

MANILA -- Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta said he feared Indonesia's army would launch a scorched earth policy in a "destructive farewell" to East Timor if the restive province voted for independence. The East Timorese resistance leader, who is visiting Manila to campaign for support for East Timor's independence struggle against Jakarta, said a delay in next month's scheduled autonomy vote was "almost inevitable" because of security conditions.


Mexican Opposition Party Picks Leaders

MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's main leftist opposition party held elections to pick its leaders, hoping to wash away the stains of a previous ballot that was scrubbed because of charges of vote fraud.

The Democratic Revolutionary Party installed more than 4,900 ballot boxes in Mexico City and 2,000 other towns across Mexico's 31 states and hoped 500,000 party members would vote.

The vote marked the first time that Mexicans living in the United States could vote in a party primary, with party members in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York allowed to cast ballots. A final tally was not expected until Thursday, officials said.

Political analysts say the allegations of fraud in the original elections in March severely undermined the party's claim to be the champion of democracy and enemy of ballot fraud as it prepares to take on the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in the July 2000 presidential polls.


Sinn Fein Rejects Terms for Disarmament

LONDON -- Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political ally, yesterday ruled out IRA disarmament by May 2000, dealing another blow to the shaky prospects of implementing last year's peace agreement.

Implementation of the peace accord in this British province is stalled over the outlawed IRA's refusal to hand over any of its weapons. The main Protestant politicians, the Ulster Unionists, have refused to sit in a cabinet with Sinn Fein while the IRA remains armed.

The parties last week missed a third deadline for forming a Protestant-Catholic coalition cabinet envisaged in the accord.

Agenda Outlined for Stepashin's U.S. Visit

MOSCOW -- Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and other Russian officials will seek U.S. aid for Russian farms and airlines and discuss a steel trade dispute during a trip to the United States, news reports said.

Stepashin's U.S. visit, his first since his appointment in May, is aimed at mending relations that fell to their lowest point in the post-Cold War era during NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia. Russia fiercely opposed the bombings, but now has peacekeeping troops serving alongside NATO in the Serbian province of Kosovo. The Russian premier is also seeking to boost U.S. investment in his country's ailing economy.

He left Vladivostok yesterday for Seattle for talks with Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. He heads to Washington on Tuesday, where he will meet President Clinton, Vice President Gore and other officials.

Bomb Found in Synagogue Detonated Safely

MOSCOW -- A bomb was found in a Moscow synagogue in what appeared to be part of a recent wave of attacks and attempted assaults against Jewish sites in the Russian capital.

A rabbi's child found the device in a Lubavitch synagogue near Moscow's central Pushkin Square and congregants brought it outside, Russian news agencies reported.

After a bomb-sniffing dog confirmed that the package contained explosives, a robot exploded it. No one was injured, but several windows in a neighboring building were shattered, the Interfax news agency said.


Israeli Settlers Removed From West Bank

JERUSALEM -- Israeli security forces said they removed a Jewish settlers' camp on the West Bank, the first such eviction since Ehud Barak replaced Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

The Israeli army said soldiers and police removed five mobile homes near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel. Settlers moved onto the hilltop site on Friday afternoon.

Barak, who took office on July 6, has promised not to permit new settlements but to maintain Israeli sovereignty over large existing settlements in any final peace deal with the Palestinians. Many settlers have opposed a trade of land for peace, but with Barak's election they see a ceding of land to the Palestinians as inevitable.

Iranian Newspaper Publisher Found Guilty

LONDON -- An Iranian court found the publisher of the pro-reform newspaper Salam guilty of several charges including publishing a classified document and defamation, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported. The agency, monitored by the BBC, said Mohammad Mousavi-Khoeiniha, also was found guilty of publishing insulting language and misinforming the public.

The Special Court for Clergy had heard charges that Salam, at the center of six days of pro-democracy protests, had slandered officials and had accused members of parliament of complicity in an anti-press campaign with a rogue secret agent charged with masterminding last year's serial murders of secular dissidents.


"We attach high hopes on your peace plan."

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Moroccan King Hassan's funeral in Rabat -- Page A1