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 9 - 16 June 1997

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Pro-President party wins Algerian election

Algeria's pro-President party, formed only two months ago, won the nation's first parliamentary elections since a Muslim insurgency began five years ago. President Liamine Zeroul National Democratic Rally, who had asked for a mandate for his plans to crush the Muslim rebellion, won 155 of the National Assembly's 380 seats.

The Islamic uprising began after the military regime cancelled legislative elections in 1992 when an Islamic fundamentalist party, the Islamic Salvation Front, appeared on the verge of winning. Opposition parties are now complaining about alleged voting irregularities.

Related sites:
Algeria: Political Conflict
Arabnet: Algeria

Ahern scrapes to victory in Irish election

Fianna Fail has narrowly won the Irish election, making Bertie Ahern the new Prime Minister. However, Ahern will have to rely on the support of fringe parties and independents, potentially leading to a period of political instability in the Republic. He is set to be installed formally as Taoiseach on June 26.

Related sites:
Fianna Fail
Fine Gael
Irish Times Election '97

McVeigh guilty of Oklahoma bombing

Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of blowing up the Alfred P Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in which 168 people died two years ago. He faces either death by lethal injection or life in jail. Jurors took almost four days to find him guilty for the worst act of domestic terrorism America has ever experienced.

Related sites:
Oklahoma Bomming Resources

Kohl caves in to Bundesbank

Chancellor Kohl was forced to back down by the Bundesbank from his attempt to revalue gold reserves in time to meet the criteria for European monetary union. Theo Waigel, the Finance Minister, and Hans Tietmeyer, head of the Bundesbank, agreed that the revaluation would take place this year with profits transferred to Bonn only next year. This will come too late to allow the German Government to close the budget gap to meet the criteria for the single currency.

Related sites:
The German Economy
The Bundesbank
The Euro

HK commemorates massacre

Crowds of people poured into the main park in Hong Kong to take part in a vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. The demonstrations were made in spite of remarks by H Tung, Hong Kong's future leader, that people should drop the 'historical baggage' of the massacre and look to the future.

Related sites:
HK Democratic Foundation
Amnesty International China Campaign

Britain threatens to ban beef

Britain's Labour Government warned the EU it would ban imports of beef from Germany and other European countries unless the union tightened its anti-BSE controls in abattoirs by July 22. Jack Cunningham, Minister of Agriculture, said it was absurd that beef was sold in this country which did not comply with strict British hygiene controls introduced to restore consumer confidence.

Related sites:

Attempt to assassinate Berisha

An assassination attempt on Sali Berisha, the Albanian President, during a campaign rally has raised grave doubts that national elections on June 29 can go ahead without widespread bloodshed. The attempt to kill him came as he was addressing supporters in western Albania. Even before the latest incident, Western officials and human rights workers had said that the chance of fair elections was slim.

Related sites:
Albania On-Line
Albania General Election

Egypt makes breakthrough for peace talks

Israeli and Palestinian delegations overcame a last-minute dispute to hold their first public meeting since peace talks were suspended over two months ago. The talks were held in Cairo after efforts by American and European mediators failed to resolve the crisis over Israel's construction of a Jewish neighbourhood in annexed East Jerusalem.

Related sites:
Foundation for Middle Eastern Peace
Palestinian Ministry of Information
Israel Foreign Ministry on Building

$1 billion disappears from Russia a month

More than $1 billion is being transferred out of Russia every month, sapping the country of investment funds, Russian officials have revealed. The Central Bank said up to £9.4 billion a year was being sent abroad illegally, but if semi-legal capital export schemes are taken into account the figure is much higher. A further £25 billion is thought to be kept in dollars under mattresses, as Russians do not trust the rouble. The IMF has said that if Russian's savings could be attracted into circulation it would create sustained economic growth.

Related sites:
Russia Today

Pentagon rocked as chief admits to affair

The US military was shockedby a confession from the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a sexual liaison 13 years ago with a woman who worked as a CIA intelligence officer. Air Force General Joseph Ralston, 53, who won distinction in Vietnam, admitted to the affair after reporters started digging into his background. The details have shaken the Pentagon because Ralston is a leading contender to succeed General John Shalikashvili, who retires as America's number one military man in September.

Related sites:
Gen Ralston Biography

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