Habibie Appeals to Indonesian Lawmakers
JAKARTA, Indonesia--Embattled President B.J. Habibie made a final election pitch yesterday, begging highly critical lawmakers in the People's Consultative Assembly to forgive his failures before they select a new president on Wednesday.
He insisted that many of Indonesia's problems were the legacy of past dictators and not his fault. Nevertheless, he admitted that he had made mistakes during his 16 months in office.
Habibie is one of three candidates for the presidency. He said whoever wins must continue to push for democratic reforms. Habibie was appointed, not elected, to take over when his authoritarian predecessor and mentor, Suharto, was forced to resign after 32 years.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Israeli Settlers Protest at Barak's Home
JERUSALEM--Thousands of Jewish settlers, angered by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's plans to dismantle rogue settlements, demonstrated outside his home in the biggest right-wing protest since he took office.
The gathering of religious Jews carrying placards denouncing Barak recalled scenes from the stormy period that culminated in the 1995 assassination of Barak's mentor, Yitzhak Rabin.
Before the protest, right-wing rabbis issued religious edicts ordering Jews to resist Barak's plans to remove 12 of the 42 outposts that settlers set up without government approval before Israeli-Palestinian talks on permanent peace.
Iraq Says West Targeted Civilians
BAGHDAD, Iraq--President Saddam Hussein vowed to keep challenging U.S. and British aircraft flying over Iraq after another reported raid in which Iraqi authorities said civilian targets had been bombed.
An Iraqi military spokesman said U.S. and British warplanes hit civilian areas in the northern provinces of Duhok, Arbil and Nineveh before being driven off by Iraqi forces. There was no confirmation from Washington or London.
Yemen Executes Kidnapper of Tourists
SANAA, Yemen--Yemen executed an Islamic fundamentalist leader who was convicted of abducting 16 Western tourists, four of whom died in a botched rescue attempt.
Zein Abidine Mihdar was executed by a firing squad in Sanaa, a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mihdar is the first person to be executed in Yemen on kidnapping charges under a law passed in August 1998, four months before the tourists were abducted.
Botswana Democrats Predict Victory
GABORONE, Botswana--The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) predicted a big victory in national elections, which would give the only party to have governed southern Africa's oldest democracy five more years in power.
Results were coming in slowly after Saturday's voting because election officials were hand-counting paper ballots in this largely arid land, which has 1.5 million people. Only local council results were starting to be tallied early yesterday, showing the BDP winners in rural and semi-rural areas and the opposition Botswana National Front scoring well in downtown Gaborone, the capital.
Chechen Leader Seeks End to Fighting
GROZNY, Russia--Russian artillery and warplanes pressed their attacks around Chechnya's capital, while the region's president, Aslan Maskhadov, called for urgent negotiations to end the fighting.
The Russian commander in Chechnya, Col. Gen. Viktor Kazantsev, said his forces had taken a strategic ridge 20 miles northwest of Grozny, south of the Terek River that cuts across the northern third of Chechnya.
Tory Chief Backs Pinochet's Return Home
LONDON--British Conservative Party leader William Hague said former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet should be sent home, joining similar calls from Britain's right-wing politicians.
A British magistrate ruled this month that Pinochet can be extradited to Spain to face charges of torturing political opponents during the latter part of his time in power, from 1973 to 1990.
On Thursday, Chile asked Britain to allow Pinochet, 83, to return home because of his age and failing health. But the British government said it would not take action until court proceedings against him have finished, a process that could take at least another year.
NATO Denies Story on Embassy Bombing
LONDON--NATO, British and U.S. officials denied a British newspaper report that NATO deliberately bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war after discovering the embassy was transmitting Yugoslav army communications.
"The tragic mistake was caused by human error," NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said of the May 7 bombing, which left three people dead.
The Observer, a liberal weekly, quoted unidentified military and intelligence sources in the United States and Europe as saying NATO knew in April that the Chinese Embassy in the Yugoslav capital was being used as a "rebroadcast" facility.
Colombian Rebels Hijack Tourist Boat
BOGOTA, Colombia--Suspected guerrillas posing as passengers hijacked a tourist boat off Colombia's Pacific coast and kidnapped 14 men before releasing the vessel, its captain and the women and children aboard, the navy said.
Four assailants with concealed weapons boarded the boat Saturday in Buenaventura, a major western port, then forced it to land at a beach. They then took away the male passengers.
No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, but the action appeared to be part of a wave of rebel abductions that have increasingly exposed Colombians to the country's 35-year conflict.
The navy quoted the freed passengers as saying that the hostage-takers said they were punishing the boat's owner for refusing to make extortion payments to Colombia's largest rebel band, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"This is not martial law. It is only another path to democracy."
-- Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in his first speech since announcing that he had overthrown the democratically elected government in Pakistan -- Page A1