North Korea’s ships barred
TOKYO — Most North Korean ships will be barred from Japanese ports under a law that took effect yesterday, a move that will slash trade as Tokyo ratchets up pressure on the impoverished communist country over a decades-old kidnapping dispute.
The law requires all foreign ships over 100 tons to be insured against oil spills, losses and other damage to enter Japan. Few North Korean ships are believed to meet the requirement, and some are billing the measure as economic sanctions in disguise.
Voters approve new constitution
BUJUMBURA — Burundians voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new power-sharing constitution, guaranteeing majority rule and minority rights in this Central African country torn by 11 years of ethnic violence, officials said yesterday.
Paul Ngarambe, the head of the electoral commission, said 90 percent of registered voters turned out Monday and more than 91 percent of them approved the new constitution, which reserves 60 percent of seats in government and parliament for Hutus and 40 percent for Tutsis.
Civil war broke out in Burundi in October 1993 after Tutsi paratroopers assassinated the country’s first democratically elected leader, a Hutu. More than 260,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
Pope speaks in two languages
ROME — Five days after an emergency tracheotomy, Pope John Paul II has begun speaking again in his Rome hospital room, the BBC said yesterday.
“The Holy Father spoke to me in German and Italian. He was very alert. He will be working on some of the documentation that I brought to him,” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told reporters as he left the Gemelli hospital.
The 84-year-old pope was admitted to the hospital last week with breathing problems and he underwent an emergency procedure to assist his respiration.
Tung planning exit before term ends?
HONG KONG — Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa will resign before his tenure expires in 2007 due to poor health, local newspapers said today.
The Chinese government accepted Mr. Tung’s offer to step down, the newspapers reported, quoting sources in Beijing.
According to the Ming Pao Daily News, Beijing urged Mr. Tung to stay on when he expressed his intention to resign during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays last month. He reportedly cited ill health as the reason. Beijing later approved his resignation after he insisted on quitting, the newspaper said.