Fighting Resumes in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone--An uneasy alliance between rebels and former junta soldiers has dissolved into bloodshed in northern Sierra Leone, where about 100 soldiers were killed in fighting last weekend, newspapers reported yesterday. The rebel Revolutionary United Front battled the former soldiers along a key road between the northern towns of Makeni and Lunsar, 45 miles northeast of Freetown, the Concord Times reported, citing accounts from refugees fleeing the region.
Relations between the rebels and their allies from Sierra Leone's ousted junta have been strained since rebel leader Foday Sankoh and President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah signed a July 7 peace deal. The accord promised the rebels a power-sharing role in the government but made no specific mention of the former junta, which was ousted early last year by a West African intervention force.
Nigerian Money Laundering Investigated
GENEVA--Swiss judicial authorities have opened an inquiry into alleged money laundering and participation in a criminal organization involving Nigeria's late leader, Gen. Sani Abacha, and his entourage, the investigating magistrate said. Abacha; his eldest son, Muhammed Sani Abacha; his widow, Mariam; and his brother Abdulkadir are among those accused by Nigeria's elected government of having "systematically plundered" the country's central bank, a Swiss statement issued this month said.
A Geneva lawyer representing the Nigerian government alleges that Abacha and his entourage diverted $2.2 billion from the central bank alone.
Russian Forces Near Chechen Capital
GROZNY, Russia--Exploding artillery shells rattled windows and spread fear in the Chechen capital, as the heaviest fighting in weeks brought Russian tanks and soldiers near the city limits. Chechen fighters battled the Russians within two miles of Grozny's northern edge, while more fighting raged to the east of the city. Russian jets and artillery elsewhere bombarded at least seven towns and settlements across Chechnya, officers on both sides said.
Russian Parliament Approves Budget
MOSCOW--Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won an economic victory when parliament gave initial approval to the country's budget for 2000. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, passed the $27 billion plan 244 to 86. The budget meets the chief macroeconomic targets of the International Monetary Fund, which has been withholding a $640 million installment of a $4.5 billion loan.
Albanian Prime Minister Resigns
TIRANA, Albania--Prime Minister Pandeli Majko resigned after a year in office and leaders of the governing Socialist Party agreed to propose deputy Ilir Meta, 30, as his successor, Socialist leader Fatos Nano said. Nano said the 17-member party presidency agreed that Meta's nomination would be decided by the party's steering committee today.
Majko complained after handing in his resignation that political squabbling in the Socialist Party prevented him from tackling Albania's numerous problems, such as rampant crime and corruption.
Dutch Parliament Legalizes Brothels
THE HAGUE--Parliament overturned a 1912 ban on brothels, voting to clean up the oldest profession by turning bordellos into legitimate establishments in the booming Dutch sex industry. By a vote of 49 to 26, the upper house approved the bill that officially made it legal to run a brothel anywhere in the country, subject to local zoning ordinances. The lower house passed the bill in February by an overwhelming majority.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Clinton to Request Funds for Wye Accord
SHANNON, Ireland--Defense Secretary William S. Cohen assured Israel that the Clinton administration would press Congress to approve $1.2 billion to help implement the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. The Republican-controlled Congress has so far rejected aid that President Clinton had promised to help pay for implementation of the Wye River peace deal he helped to negotiate in 1998. Cohen was returning from talks in Israel with Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Australian Leader Opposes Republic
SYDNEY, Australia--Prime Minister John Howard laid out his arguments against Australia becoming a republic, warning voters not to lightly throw aside a constitutional system that had served the country well.
Ten days before a national referendum on whether to replace Britain's Queen Elizabeth II with an Australian president, the conservative prime minister said the current system ensured that Australians were in charge of their own destiny. Australians are to vote on Nov. 6 on whether to retain their current constitutional monarchy or opt for a president appointed by Parliament.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"No doubt there will be cancelations."
-- Hanna Nasser, mayor of Bethlehem, on the impact Israeli-Palestinian clashes will have on tourism during the city's millennium celebrations --Page A1
CAPTION: Russian soldiers shell Chechen positions near the village of Kalinovskaya, 15 miles northwest of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.