- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2001

Government of Fiji ruled illegal

SUVA, Fiji A court ruling yesterday declaring Fiji's military-backed government illegal clears the way for the return of democracy but also for new confrontations in this ethnically fragmented South Pacific nation.

An appeals court said the civilian government installed after a nationalist coup last spring was illegitimate and ordered it to give up power.

In a national television and radio broadcast, President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said the government accepted the decision, but would hold a series of meetings to decide how to implement it.

"This is not going to happen overnight," Mr. Qarase said.

Berenson retrial begins next week

LIMA, Peru The civilian retrial of Lori Berenson, a New York woman facing 20 years in prison for reported "terrorist collaboration" with a Peruvian rebel group, will begin next week and could last four months, Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan said yesterday.

"The oral trial will start on Thursday next week, as far as I know, and on that basis, her sentence or absolution will be determined," the minister told a news conference.

Miss Berenson, 31, who says she is innocent, was jailed for life in 1996 by a hooded military judge as a leader of the Cuban-inspired Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

Bin Laden applauds bombing of U.S. ship

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates The world's most wanted Islamic militant, Osama bin Laden, has applauded the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, describing the destroyer as a ship of injustice that sailed to its doom.

Bin Laden's remarks were recorded at a family celebration in Afghanistan and broadcast yesterday on Qatar's satellite channel, Al-Jazeera.

Two suicide bombers detonated a small boat full of explosives alongside the USS Cole as it refueled in Aden harbor, Yemen, on Oct. 12, killing 17 U.S. sailors and wounding 39 others.

African leaders proclaim union

SIRTE, Libya African heads of state yesterday proclaimed the birth of the African Union, a continental confederation loosely modeled on the European Union and actively sponsored by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Togo President Gnassingbe Eyadema told an Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit that 46 of the OAU 53 member states had signed the founding act of the union.

IMF inclined to grant billions to Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey The International Monetary Fund has agreed in principle to extend billions of dollars in loans to Turkey to help it overcome its latest financial crisis, a newspaper reported yesterday.

IMF officials were in Turkey waiting for the government to appraise the cost of the crisis before determining how much was needed, the newspaper said.

13 bodies pulled from British wreck

GREAT HECK, England Rescuers working in wet and frigid conditions yesterday pulled the last known victims from a shattered express train, while the eerie sounds of mobile phones rang in the mangled wreckage.

Thirteen bodies were recovered from the site of Wednesday morning's accident in northeast England when the passenger train collided with a car and a freight train in an improbable and catastrophic chain of events. Police said more bodies could be trapped underneath the wreckage.

3,000 Rwandan troops begin Congo pullout

PWETO, Congo More than 3,000 Rwandan troops marched north after withdrawing from positions around this town in southeastern Congo, the most significant step in a sputtering peace process to end a 2 and 1/2-year war involving six African nations.

Dressed in brand-new camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenade launchers on their shoulders, the troops sang victory songs as they marched Wednesday across the rain-soaked savannah.

Rwandan troops have been in Congo since 1998 to support rebels fighting against the Congolese government and to protect Rwanda's western boundary from incursions by Hutu militiamen. They took Pweto, 250 miles north of Lubumbashi, Congo's third-largest city, in December from a coalition of forces supporting the government.

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