- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2000

Zimbabwe to again seize white farms

HARARE, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's government vowed yesterday to push ahead with seizures of white-owned farms despite a severe rebuff in watershed elections.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of President Robert Mugabe and the infant Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) huddled separately to discuss their next moves after an stunning electoral outcome that totally changed the political landscape.

The MDC, formed only nine months ago, came from nowhere to win almost half the vote in last weekend's parliamentary elections, taking 57 seats only five fewer than the ruling party. The opposition never had held more than three seats in the 20 years since independence.

Despite the huge scare for his party, Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende said the seizures of white-owned farms, one of the most controversial government policies, would go ahead.

Russian regional chiefs reject demotion plan

MOSCOW Russia's powerful regional bosses overwhelmingly rejected yesterday a presidential bill that would strip them of automatic seats in parliament's upper house. One said they had foiled a "coup attempt."

But their vote only set the stage for the State Duma, parliament's lower house, to override the provincial chiefs' veto, enforce President Vladimir Putin's will and enact the measure anyway.

Moscow pulls back after Chechnya clash

NAZRAN, Russia Russian soldiers pulled back from a battle with a large group of rebels in Chechnya yesterday after two days of close combat killed 12 Russians and wounded 16 others, military officials said.

The fighting began Monday when Russian Interior Ministry troops approached the town of Serzhen Yurt, southeast of the capital of Grozny, to conduct document checks and ran into a band of rebel fighters in nearby woods, the military said.

After a shootout, paratroopers and army special forces units were rushed to the area and encircled the rebels, government spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said yesterday. Two days of fighting in the forest ensued before troops pulled back.

Anti-terrorist law weighed by India

NEW DELHI India said yesterday it is considering a series of measures including a tough new anti-terrorism law and a new federal agency to curb persistent violence across the nation.

The federal government summoned state civil servants and police chiefs to a meeting yesterday. It urged them to crack down on terrorist organizations, underworld crime groups and "anti-India elements" seeking to give the country a bad name by rousing communal passions, officials said.

India, which is battling armed rebellion in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, has also suffered caste and communal violence. In recent months, a series of attacks on minority Christians has embarrassed the government.

Navy ends exercises at Puerto Rico range

VIEQUES, Puerto Rico The Navy concluded its exercises on Vieques Island yesterday after three days of bombing that sparked protests and ended with scores of activists arrested and four Navy personnel reported injured.

"Ships and aircraft of the USS George Washington Carrier Battle Group successfully completed essential combat training [in Vieques] prior to deploying in the Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf this summer," the Navy said.

Colombia drug war faces sharp attack

LOS POZOS, Colombia Washington's escalating drug war in Colombia is expected to come under sharp attack at an international peace conference opening today in this tiny village in the country's coca-growing south.

Hosted by leftist guerrillas and the government as part of negotiations to end the Andean country's 36-year conflict, the Conference on Illegal Drug Crops and the Environment will be attended by delegates from 21 countries, including Britain, Spain, France, Canada and Japan but not the United States.

The U.S. government declined, citing a prohibition on official contacts with Colombia's largest rebel band, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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