A weekly digest covering major political and economic developments around the world, continent by continent and personality by personality.

News round-up for the week of 21 - 28 July 1997

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IRA calls ceasefire

The Irish Republican Army has called a ceasefire, following indications from the British and Irish governments that republicans would be allowed to take part in peace talks without first giving up weapons. Unionists accused the British government of caving in to the IRA, and threatened to withdraw from the peace talks. Tony Blair was set to meet David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, in an attempt to persuade him not to abandon the process.

Related sites:
Ireland Conflict Archive (CAIN)
British Government
Sinn Fein

King of fashion shot dead

Fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot dead outside his mansion in Miami. Police are seeking a man who was seen to approach the 50-year-old designer as he was unlocking his front gate, then raise a gun and shoot him twice in the back of the head. The authorities say the only suspect is serial killer Andrew Cunanan, one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives.

Related sites:
FBI wanted list

Hundreds killed by Central European floods

Thousands of people were moved to safety from towns in Poland and the Czech Republic as rivers burst their banks after torrential downpours. More than 100 people have died this month, including 49 in Poland and 48 in the Czech Republic, and damage estimates run into billions of pounds.

Related sites:
Warsaw Voice
Central Europe Online

Karadzic supporters expel rival

The struggle for control of the Serb-held area of Bosnia intensified as President Biljana Plavsic of the Bosnian Serb Republic was expelled from the ruling Serb Democratic Party (SDS) by Radovan Karadzic's supporters. Sixty-six members of the SDS demanded that Mrs Plavsic resign, though they have no constitutional power to enforce the vote. Mrs Plavsic has replied by threatening to have Karadzic arrested by the army on charges of war profiteering.

Related sites:
Balkans Peace Site

EU-US row over Boeing merger worsens

Karel van Miert, the EU competition commissioner, has threatened to seize a fleet of aircraft ordered from the US if Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, the American aircraft manufacturers, don't act on his concerns over their planned £8.5 billion merger. Miert could also declare the new merger illegal in Europe and fine it 10 per cent of its revenues. Locking Boeing out of Europe would mean its exclusion from 26 per cent of the world market. Miert opposes the merger because he believes Airbus would not be able to compete with the dominant new concern.

Related sites:
McDonnell Douglas
Airbus Industrie

Taliban hit hard by opposition

Allies against the Taliban in Afghanistan have dealt the Islamic movement a major blow by capturing a key provincial capital and air base close to Kabul. The northern-based alliance claimed that 500 Taliban soldiers were killed in the conflict.

Related sites:
Afghanistan Peace

Brazil police strike sparks crime wave

Police demanding raises are on strike in five Brazilian states, forcing the authorities to call in soldiers to fight a wave of crime. In Recife, robbers have hit eight banks, looted stores, and broken into automatic bank machines. There are now fears that the strike could spread to other regions.

Related sites:
Latinworld: Brazil

Palestinians police arrest colleagues

Palestinian security forces have arrested four of their colleagues in connection with Israeli claims that Palestinian security officials were planning attacks on Israel. Palestinian officials have denied the allegations of a police plot to attack Israelis, but Yasser Arafat set up a commission headed by Saadi el-Naji to investigate them. El-Naji said the men who were arrested will be tried in a military court if the charges are proven.

Related sites:
Palestinian Info Centre

Taylor takes lead in Liberian election

Charles Taylor, the man blamed for starting Liberia's civil war, took a massive lead as the first results from presidential elections were reported. His main challenger shocked election observers by claiming widespread fraud, raising doubts over the country's attempts to put an end to seven years of civil conflict.

Related sites:
Africa News: Liberia

Taiwan and HK in WTO talks

Taiwan is opening talks with Hong Kong on Taipei's application to join the World Trade Organisation. The talks are the first negotiations of this type since Hong Kong reverted to China.

Related sites:
World Trade Organisation

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©Kensington Publications 1997