- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

Debt referendum planned in Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil The powerful Catholic Church in Brazil, critical of deep social inequalities, challenged the government yesterday on its large debt bills and support for an International Monetary Fund austerity.

Brazil's National Bishops' Council which groups Roman Catholic leaders in the world's largest Catholic country is organizing a nationwide plebiscite on debt payments next month to focus attention on meager spending for the poor.

At a news conference council members said they hope the plebiscite will change attitudes in the huge nation in which 50 percent of the 165 million population lives in poverty.

"If the finance minister and the president think differently, let them convince the population to say 'yes' to the IMF deal, to the payment of external debts without an audit of the payments and the bleeding of the country's wealth to enrich speculators," said a statement handed out by the council at the news conference.

Liberia deal nears on detained TV crew

MONROVIA, Liberia After meeting throughout the day, defense lawyers reached agreement with the Liberian government yesterday that could soon lead to the release of a British television crew detained on espionage charges, a source close to the defense said.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to give further details.

Russia refuses bail for spy suspect

MOSCOW A Pennsylvania businessman accused of spying and held in a top-security Russian jail was refused bail yesterday, despite his lawyer's arguments that he may have cancer and needs specialized medical help.

Edmond Pope, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer, was arrested in April on charges of purchasing secret design information about a high-tech torpedo for tens of thousands of dollars. His lawyer said yesterday he is accused of buying the plans from a Russian science professor.

The lawyer, Pavel Astakhov, said Mr. Pope denied trying to purchase documents containing secret information.

Outspoken priest found shot dead

NAIROBI, Kenya An outspoken American priest who was embroiled in controversy in Kenya last year after criticizing two government ministers, was found shot dead yesterday, police said.

Roman Catholic Father John Kaiser's body was found close to his car near the town of Naivasha, about 50 miles northwest of the capital, Nairobi. The 67-year-old priest from Underwood, Minn., had lived in Kenya for more than 40 years.

"The body had a bullet wound in the head," police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said in a statement. A "shotgun was found at the scene near the body."

Paraguay opposition wins share of power

ASUNCION, Paraguay An opposition leader was declared the winner yesterday in Paraguay's elections for a vice president, creating an unprecedented power-sharing arrangement with the president from the ruling party.

The victory by Julio Cesar Franco of the Liberal party deals the ruling Colorado Party its first major election defeat since 1947.

Backed by a popular vote, Mr. Franco takes his post beside the unelected President Luis Gonzalez Macchi, whose popularity has sharply fallen since he was put in power.

Mr. Gonzalez Macchi was installed amid the chaos following the March 1999 assassination of Vice President Luis Argana. Mr. Gonzalez Macchi's predecessor, Raul Cubas, was accused of being behind the slaying and was forced from office.

Ruling Taleban appeals for recognition

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement appealed to the world yesterday to give it official recognition and a seat at the United Nations still held by its opponents.

"Afghanistan has completed all the criteria for official recognition," Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Maulvi Mohammed Saeed-ur-Rehman Haqqani told a news conference.

"It controls more than 90 percent of the territory, including the capital of the country, all its international boundaries … and international airports."

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