There were ominous rumblings for U.S. President Bill Clinton in the so-called Whitewater affair. His former business partner James McDougal was sentenced to three years in jail for fraud for involvement in the bankruptcy of a savings and loans bank in Little Rock, Ark. McDougal said he had changed his story denying a Clinton role in the crime and was co-operating with investigators. Said McDougal: “I just got sick and tired of lying for the fellow.”
DOLE BAILS OUT NEWT
Former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole will lend fellow Republican and House Speaker Newt Gingrich the $420,000 he needs to pay a penalty left hanging from his ethics case. A House committee found him guilty of using tax-exempt funds to promote political goals. Dole’s lawyer termed the loan, due within eight years, a “friend-tofriend” transaction.
BELGIAN SOMALIA SHOCK
Top military leaders in Belgium are reviewing training methods following revelations that its elite paratroops committed atrocities during the 1993 UN Somali peace mission. Leaked photographs showed paratroopers burning a Somali child over a fire and urinating on a dead Somali’s face. One man was allegedly confined and left to die in scorching heat. Canada’s Airborne regiment, members of which tortured and killed a Somali teenager on the same UN operation, has been disbanded.
INDIA CHOOSES PM
India’s United Front coalition named Foreign Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, 77, as the country’s next prime minister after the Congress party dropped its opposition to the formation of a centreleft government. The Congress had triggered the crisis by withdrawing its support for the coalition, forcing Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda to resign after a nonconfidence vote. The Congress said it would support the United Front again, under a new leader.
A WOMAN FOR IRAN?
A female former MP said she would register as a candidate in Iran’s May 23 presidential election. The move by Azam Taleqani, 54, will test whether the Islamic state’s vaguely worded constitution allows women candidates. A screening council will decide.
INTO ALBAN IA« The first of more than 6,000 Italian-led soldiers from Europe move out near the Albanian port city of Dürres to help deliver food aid to the strife-torn country.The day after the long-awaited troops began arriving, Albania’s rival political parties agreed to hold parliamentary elections on June 29. That could help end the anarchy that arose from protests over bankrupt pyramid schemes in which many Albanians lost their life savings. However, international mediator Franz Vranitzky of Austria said the elections will proceed only if rebels who control the south of the country give up their demands for independence.
Mandela steps in on Zaïre
Rebel attempts to end the 31-year reign of Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko seemed ready to move, at least briefly, from the battlefield to the negotiating table. Laurent Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaïre controls more than half of the country and has surrounded the capital, Kinshasa. Kabila has long demanded that Mobutu step down and leave the country, but a last-ditch intervention by South African President Nelson Mandela headed off an immediate battle when he convinced Kabila to enter into direct talks with Mobutu.
Most of the populace of the resource-rich but impoverished country has welcomed Kabila’s
forces as they advance with little opposition towards Kinshasa. That support allowed Kabila to insist that the talks, proposed for Cape Town, focus only on Mobutu’s resignation. rWhen he is ready for this, I shall go and attend a short day’s ceremony on the peaceful transfer of power,” Kabila said. Mobutu’s people, meanwhile, said he agreed to a meeting “in principle,” but diplomats added that his health may not be up to gruelling negotiations or to travelling outside Zaïre. Mobutu, 66, is seriously ill with prostate cancer. Mandela said Mobutu was “very co-operative.” But in a sign that dramatic changes loomed, he referred to both Mobutu and Kabila as “president.”
A fire near Mecca kills hundreds of pilgrims
Fires fanned by high winds tore through a sprawling tent village outside Mecca, killing 343 Muslim pilgrims who had travelled to the Saudi Arabian city to celebrate Islam’s holiest week. Saudi officials said the fires, which also injured at least 1,300, started when a cooking gas canister exploded. Many of the victims, mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, were trampled to death as pilgrims fled in panic. “Oh my God, it was horrible,” said an Egyptian pilgrim named Ehab.“People could not get away.” The annual hajj pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed attracted at least two million people this year.
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