- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

Indian leader plans major Cabinet overhaul

LUCKNOW, India Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday he plans a major midterm Cabinet overhaul next week to whip his party into shape for national elections due by 2004.
The reshuffle, set for Monday, could decide the fractious 20-member ruling coalition's fate in the next elections. "It will be a big reshuffle in the Cabinet. The exercise is mainly to infuse vigor and rejuvenate [the coalition]," Mr. Vajpayee, 77, told reporters.
The coalition still holds a healthy parliamentary majority, but a raft of defeats for Mr. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party in regional elections this year, including in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, has shown voter support melting away.

Tamil-Muslim clashes bring military patrols
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Police fired tear gas, called in the army and imposed curfews Thursday after clashes between minority Tamil and Muslim mobs in eastern Sri Lanka.
Military units patrolled the streets of Ottamawadi in the eastern district of Batticaloa as communal violence spread from the neighboring district of Trincomalee, officials said.
They said three Tamils were wounded in a grenade attack while four Muslims were admitted to hospitals following mob violence that saw at least six shops destroyed. The clashes were unrelated to the ongoing truce between government forces and Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

Burmese criticism of Thai king stirs fury
BANGKOK Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is demanding action over a series of articles published by Burma's state press that Thailand considers offensive to its monarchy.
"The newspaper that published the insulting articles was under government control. They were not appropriate, so [Rangoons military government] should quickly correct them," he told reporters, adding it was up to Burma to show it wants to repair tattered relations.
"At this point, we could be at a crossroad. [Burma] must show more understanding and must decide how to proceed."

Weekly notes
Burma democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi enjoyed complete freedom of movement on her trip to Mandalay, her first political sojourn outside the capital since she was released from house arrest last month, party sources said Thursday. "She is free to go anywhere," Mandalay's National League for Democracy Chairman Bo Zan said as Mrs. Suu Kyi neared the end of a weeklong excursion in Burma's north. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev warned Thursday that Kyrgyzstan was on the brink of civil war as tensions continue to simmer following bloody riots in March. Thousands of demonstrators have been protesting in the volatile south of the country for the past two weeks, calling on President Askar Akayev and his government to resign.

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