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 23 - 30 June 1997

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Russia joins 'Summit of the Eight'

President Yeltsin's dream of getting Russia accepted as a full member of the Group of Seven was fulfilled as the latest summit of the leading nation's club was held in Denver, Colorado. President Clinton, who has forged a close relationship with Yeltsin, renamed the occasion the 'Summit of the Eight', signalling that the international community sees Russia as a useful friend rather than a foe.

Related sites:
Russia Today
Summit Information Page

Pol Pot surrenders ?

Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader whose regime was responsible for the deaths of more than a million Cambodians in the 1970s, has surrendered to his former guerrilla comrades, according to reports from the Khmer Rouge radio. General Nhek Bunchhay, deputy chief of staff of the Cambodian army, said the guerrillas intended to hand over Pol Pot to an international tribunal for trial on genocide charges. However there was continuing uncertainty over the reliability of the report, which was only increased by conflicting statements from the Cambodian authorities involved.

Related sites:
Cambodia Auto-Genocide Page
Khmer Rouge Regime

Hague to lead troubled Tories

William Hague became the youngest leader of the British Tory party for more than 200 years after a 22-vote victory over former chancellor Kenneth Clarke in the final round of the leadership contest. He promised to heal party divisions and lead it on the 'long hard grind' back to power. Clarke announced that he would be returning to the backbenches and would not seek a post in Mr Hague's shadow cabinet. Hague's margin of victory seemed to be a clear sign that the Tory party is broadly Euro-sceptic and will go into the next election ruling out membership of a single currency.

Related sites:
The Conservative Party

Netanyahu coalition shaken by resignation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggled to hold his year-old Government together as members of his coalition called for fresh elections after the resignation of Dan Meridor, the respected Finance Minister. The resignation aggravated the resentment of traditionalists against Mr Netanyahu, and led to accusations that Meridor had been deliberately forced out by Mr Netanyahu.

Related sites:
Jerusalem Post
Bibi Watch
Israel's Government in Action

SA's Armscor struggles for survival

South Africa's multi-million-pound arms industry is fighting for its survival after the latest cut in the defence budget. Under the white regime in the 1980s arms production and military spending was always a Government priority, but since then defence spending has been more than halved, putting the future of key projects like the Roojvalk attack helicopter in question.

Related sites:
Armscor Home Page
Mail and Guardian Home Page

Russia to restrict minority religions

Russia is set to pass a law severely restricting the freedom of religious minorities and foreign missionaries, giving rise to fears that the country is returning to the intolerant attitudes of the communist era. The Bill aims to clamp down on the activities of burgeoning sects and cults, but it will also affect smaller Churches.

Related sites:
Russia Today

HK's Tung to crackdown on protest

A confrontation between the Chinese authorities and Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters was brewing on the eve of the territory's hand-over, with the future leader C H Tung warning that laws curbing demonstations will take effect from midnight on June 30. Tung said that although the post-handover legislature would not pass the new laws until the morning of July 1, they would be retrospective, dating back to the moment China recovered sovereignty from Britain. This puts Martin Lee, the Democrat leader who is planning to denounce the provisional legislature immediately after the handover, on course for a clash with the authorities.

Related sites:
HK Democratic Foundation
The People's Daily (China)

New leader for Spanish Socialists

A dedicated pro-European has been voted leader of the Spanish Socialists to replace Felipe Gonzalez, the long-serving former prime minister. Joaquin Almunia, 49, an economist and former trade union official, won 681 votes at the party congress in Madrid to take the post of secretary general.

Related sites:
Spanish Socialist Party (in Spanish)
Spain Online
El Pais Digital (in Spanish)

McLibel backfires

McDonalds was awarded £60,000 libel damages by a British court against two campaigners who defended themselves in the longest trial in the country's legal history. But though they won a technical victory, commentators said they had lost the public relations battle, after the judge also ruled that the fast-food chain exploits children in its advertising, is cruel to animals and that its restaurants pay low wages to British workers.

Related sites:

Patten bids farewell to Hong Kong

The end of an era was signalled as Chris Patten, Governor of Hong Kong, attended a farewell question time yesterday at the legislature, whose members are to be cast out of office by China following the handover. He said he felt a sense of regret over his failure to persuade China to allow more democracy in Hong Kong, but that he was confident that the people of the territory would make their own future ultimately.

Related sites:
HK Democratic Foundation
The People's Daily (China)

News Archive

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