Labor Candidate Wins in New Zealand
WELLINGTON, New Zealand--With most of the votes counted, Labor Party candidate Helen Clark claimed victory yesterday in New Zealand's general election, ushering in a new center-left coalition after nine years of conservative rule.
"The result . . . clearly indicates that New Zealanders want a change of direction," she told supporters at a victory party. "We are on the cusp of a new century and we can have a fresh start."
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, who has governed the island two years, conceded defeat.
The race was the nation's first general election to feature two women battling for the premiership. Shipley, who became prime minister in November 1997, ran on her free-market ideals and promises of tax cuts for individuals and businesses. But Clark won out with her pledges to raise taxes on the rich to help fund improvements in social and health services, and to set up a venture capital fund for new businesses.
Thousands Homeless After Vanuatu Quake
PORT VILA, Vanuatu--Eight people were confirmed dead, more than 100 were injured and thousands were left homeless after a severe earthquake followed by a tidal wave struck the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.
The quake, centered 54 miles north of the capital, Port Vila, caused extensive damage on relatively undeveloped Pentecost Island. It measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center.
The full extent of the damage was uncertain, with boulders and landslides cutting off the dirt track linking the scattered population. Telephone communication was difficult.
Police said five of the people died in collapsed buildings. Another three were swept out to sea by the tidal wave. About 12,000 people live on the island.
Vanuatu comprises about 80 islands scattered northeast of New Caledonia and northwest of Fiji.
Captured Swordfish Weighs 1.1 Tons
KHULNA, Bangladesh--Bangladeshi fishermen have netted three giant swordfish in the Bay of Bengal, including one weighing 1.1 tons.
"We never caught such big fish," fisherman Javed Ali said, adding that 35 men struggled for hours to haul in the catch.
"This has been a lifetime experience," said Ali, who has been fishing for 20 years.
The three fish were caught 90 miles off Bangladesh's Mongla port and have been put on public display at a zoo in the nearby town of Khulna.
They measured 19 feet, 18 feet and 13 feet in length, weighing 1.1 tons, one ton and half a ton, respectively.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Turks Kill Kurdish Guerrilla Leader
TUNCELI, Turkey--Turkish troops killed a Kurdish guerrilla leader who had split from Abdullah Ocalan's Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), objected to its peace moves and vowed to fight on in the mountains, Turkish officials said.
A security forces official said Haydar Alparslan and four guerrillas were shot dead in a clash in the rugged province of Tunceli.
A Turkish general said earlier this month that Alparslan, code-named Kemal, and about 20 guerrillas in the Tunceli mountains had split from the PKK after they rejected Ocalan's call to stop their armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule and leave the country.
Retired Colonel Wins Niger Election
NIAMEY, Niger--Retired army colonel Tandja Mamadou was declared the winner of Niger's civilian-rule presidential election and pledged to restore political stability as a prelude to rebuilding the country's shattered economy.
Provisional results of Wednesday's runoff, published by the electoral commission, showed that Tandja, candidate of the West African nation's former single party, defeated former prime minister Mahamadou Issoufou with 60 percent of the vote.
Provisional results showed his National Movement for the Development Society and its allies won 52 of the 83 seats in the national assembly in parliamentary polls. Niger's army rulers organized the elections as part of a promise to restore civilian rule in the mainly Muslim former French colony by the end of the year.
Macedonia Vote Outcome in Doubt
SKOPJE, Macedonia--The Macedonian supreme court nullified the results of this month's presidential balloting in 199 of the nation's 2,793 polling stations, casting doubt on the outcome of the vote nationwide, an independent television station reported.
Most of the affected stations were in western Macedonia, where ethnic Albanian voters proved decisive in enabling center-right candidate Boris Trajkovski to finish ahead of former communist Tito Petkovski.
Petkovski, who finished first in the first round of balloting, opposed measures that he claimed showed favoritism to the ethnic Albanians over the Slavic, Orthodox majority.
In reporting the court decision, independent station A1-TV said it was unclear how many votes were affected by the ruling. Polling stations serve an average of 500-1,000 voters. Trajkovski won about 594,000 votes, or 53 percent, to Petkovski's 514,000 votes, or 46 percent.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"We've done our bit. Mr. Adams, it's over to you. We've jumped. You follow."
-- David Trimble, Ulster Unionist Party leader, in comments directed at Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after Trimble's party agreed to join Northern Ireland's government before the Irish Republican Army disarms
CAPTION: Labor leader Helen Clark, right, celebrates her victory over a conservative rival in the New Zealand national elections with her husband, Peter Davis, center, and campaign supporters in Auckland.