- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

Philippine government is tested in election
MANILA — After months of corruption scandals, political violence and economic decay, Filipinos face midterm elections today that have the potential to galvanize the fledgling government — or undermine it.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, head of a diverse political coalition that pushed President Joseph Estrada from office Jan. 20, needs a government victory to claim a mandate in a nation fiercely proud and protective of its 15-year-old democracy but still tinkering with its mechanics.
Mr. Estrada, charged with pocketing $82 million from kickbacks and payoffs as president, is rallying the opposition from a jail cell.

Macedonia approves coalition government

SKOPJE, Macedonia — The Macedonian parliament yesterday approved a national unity government of Slavic and ethnic Albanian parties to tackle the roots of an Albanian armed insurgency that threatens the country with civil war.
The immediate aim of the grand coalition is to neutralize guerrilla claims that only armed struggle can win genuine equal rights for the one-third Albanian minority in this former Yugoslav republic, which became independent 10 years ago.
Members of the national assembly voted 102-1 in favor of the new government.

Iran shuts down Internet sites

TEHRAN — Iranian police have closed down more than 400 Internet cafes in the capital, Tehran, demanding that the owners obtain licenses to stay in business, newspapers and cafe owners said yesterday.
Owners said telecommunications authorities had banned the use of Internet sites offering cheap telephone connections to relatives abroad, citing a state monopoly on long-distance calls. Some 1,500 Internet cafes are dotted across Tehran.

Basque nationalists score election win

BILBAO, Spain — Centrist Basque nationalists won key elections yesterday in this picturesque region wracked by separatist violence, indicating voters want to move toward independence from Spain but not by violent means.
The Basque Nationalist Party and its coalition partner Eusko Alkartasuna — which both favor peaceful moves toward independence — fell short of a majority in the regional parliament. However, with more votes than any other bloc, they won the right to try to form a government.

Kremlin denies plans to close Radio Liberty

MOSCOW — The Kremlin yesterday denied a British newspaper report that it had threatened to close the Moscow bureau of the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty.
"Neither the Kremlin nor the government have any intention of taking repressive measures against the Moscow bureau of " Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told NTV television.
The British Sunday Times earlier reported that the threat had been made after the station had decided to broadcast programs in the Chechen language.

Election defeat hits Indias government

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayees coalition government, already reeling from a sensational bribery scandal, was dealt another blow yesterday by the results of state elections.
The alliance it had forged in the northeastern state of Assam was beaten, and one of its key coalition allies was trounced in Tamil Nadu in the south by a former movie star.

Pakistan strands Afghan refugees

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistan refused yesterday to give refugee status to tens of thousands of Afghans living in squalor in the northwest, despite pleas from the United Nations.
For months, the United Nations has been pleading with Pakistan to allow it to register the 80,000 Afghans living in Jalozai Refugee Camp.


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