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January 25, 2000 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-25

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-T A tmirCr ciT Av i ?T T

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 25, 1999 - 7

IN ti~ Il JAJl

Warring
African
presidents
convene
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - In an
extraordinary meeting orchestrated by
the United States, the presidents of
countries warring in the Congo pledged
yesterday to recommit themselves to a
faltering cease-fire and to peace in
Central Africa.
$ut the half-dozen African leaders,
including Congolese President Laurent
Kabila in his first U.S. visit, also
demanded the world body deploy a
U.N. peacekeeping force to monitor the
6-month-old truce.
The United States has acknowledged
holding up authorization for the force,
arguing the mission would be doomed
because the cease-fire has been so
idely flouted by all sides.
C gandan President Yoweri
Museveni agreed there was an enor-
mous risk and cost in setting up the
peacekeeping force, which U.N. offi-
cials have estimated could require
some 25,000 members.
"But the cost of inaction, as witnessed
in Rwanda, would be too ghastly, more
costly and morally repugnant' he told his
counterparts in the Security Council
chamber, the first time they have met out-
Africa about the war in Congo.
Wongo's war has drawn in a half-
dozen African nations, with Uganda
and Rwanda backing the rebels who
rebelled against Kabila in August
1998.
Kabila subsequently enlisted the sup-
port of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia
to fight a war that has destabilized the
entire Great Lakes region of Central
Africa, killing untold numbers and
*ooting close to 1 million people
from their homes.
The governments signed a cease-fire
agreement in Lusaka, Zambia, last July
and the rebels signed on in August. But
fighting has persisted.

r/ v Av s
Thai hostages survive
hospital stand-off

RATCHABURI, Thailand (AP) -
Ending a 22-hour standoff, Thai security
forces stormed a hospital yesterday and
killed nine heavily armed Myanmar
rebels who had held hundreds of patients,
visitors and staff hostage.
The nearly 900 people who were in the
walled, six-acre compound when the
ordeal began yesterday morning were
either freed, had escaped or were rescued
r during the siege early this morning, said
Lt. Gen. Thaweep Suwannasingha,
regional Thai army commander.
No hostages were injured, but two
police officers were. "It was a successful
operation,"Thaweep said.
Once Thai troops secured the front of
the hospital, a fleet of ambulances drove
in and began ferrying exhausted sur-
vivors - some weeping - to another
hospital for medical checks.
The rebels belong to God's Army, a
fringe group who took the hostages to
AP PHOTO pressure the government to help their

beleaguered movement.
The group is from the ethnic Karen
minority and is led by twin 12-year-old
boys believed to have magical powers.
The twins were not involved in the
takeover. Like many Karens, the follow-
ers of God's Army are fundamentalist
Christians in a predominantly Buddhist
country. They accuse Myanmar's military
regime of widespread murder, rape and
arson.
Thai media reported that a 10th gun-
man was hunted down and killed, but that
report could not be immediately con-
firmed. Thaweep discounted earlier gov-
ernment reports that there were 16 gun-
men.
Once the siege began, shooting erupt-
ed and police and soldiers armed with M-
16 assault rifles on foot and in trucks
sped into the walled, six-acre hospital
compound.
Automatic weapons fire and explo-
sions thudded in the night, possibly from

grenades, bombs or mines that the
hostage-takers had rigged around the
hospital. The pre-dawn assault lasted for
an hour.
After the area was secured, explosives
experts with mine detectors combed the
compound seeking booby-traps.
The hostage-takers had been in control
of the five-story central administration
and emergency room buildings, but
couldn't keep a grip over eight outlying
buildings. Many patients and staff there
escaped yesterday.
It was never known how many people
they held at gunpoint during the siege,
though officials guessed it 'might have
been 200.
The hostage-takers included at. least
one member of a faction of exiled
Myanmar students, the Vigorous
Burmese Student Warriors, who seized
their country's embassy in Bangkok last.3
year, said Interior Minister Sanan
Kachornprasart.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan greets U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright before the start of a Security Council meeting on the crisis in the Congo.

U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke
visited several African countries late last
year and invited their leaders to New
York to shore up the Lusaka agreement.
Despite the absence at yesterday's
meeting of the main rebel groups in the
Congo, U.S. officials said they hoped the
mini-summit of leaders, which will con-
tinue this week behind closed doors,
would produce a "Lusaka-Plus" agree-
ment.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, who chaired the meeting,
praised the leaders' willingness to come
to New York.
Albright said she would work with
Congress to obtain its approval for the
next installment of the U.N. peacekeep-
ing plan for Congo, "provided our
efforts this week result in renewed
impetus towards implementation of the
peace agreement."
In a report to the Security Council
last week, Secretary-General Kofi

Annan asked the council to authorize a
mission of 500 military observers and
3,400 troops to protect them. The next
step would be a full-fledged peacekeep-
ing force.
Annan said yesterday that the United
Nations was prepared to do its part but
that the real responsibility rested with
the countries involved.
"If peace is to take hold, and if interna-
tional engagement is to be sustained, the
warring parties face a paramount chal-
lenge: They need to demonstrate the
political will to apply the agreement fully,
without further delay' Annan said.
Kabila said he was prepared to work
for peace and launch talks immediately.
"Although history has not always
been kind to my country, we are a peo-
ple - a people who know how to for-
give," Kabila said. "And I am here
today once again to offer my hand of
reconciliation to those that have done us
harm."

Croatian voters to select
next leader 1n election
Los Angeles Times authority to the prime minister's office and parliament.
ZAGREB, Croatia - Voters were hoping to complete In the dead of a bitter Balkan winter, it's a Croatian spring.
Croatia's quiet revolution yesterday with the choice of a new Yet analysts such as Nenad Popovic warn that the current
president from three front-runners with one promise in com- surge of optimism may be short-lived once a new government
mon: Whoever wins must surrender much of his power. gets down to the painful job of dismantling Tudjman's legacy.
The election to replace Franjo Tudjman, who died of cancer After decades under Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito, and
Dec. 10, comes three weeks after voters threw his Croatian then almost 10 years more under Tudjman's hard-line nation-
Democratic Union government out of parliament in a stunning alist rule after Croatia's bloody split from Yugoslavia in 1991,
rejection of old-style nationalism and authoritarian rule. Croatians are tasting real democracy -- and the responsibili
Opinion polls published during the weekend showed a cen- ties that go with it -- for the first time.
trist, former Yugoslav President Stipe Mesic, in the lead, with Once they have to face the tougher challenges that go with.
social democrat Drazen Budisa running second and Mate more freedom, such as government cutbacks, job losses and
Granic, Tudjman's foreign minister, in third place. growing gaps in the social safety net, voters may quickly turu.
None of the nine candidates in the race is likely to win the nostalgic for Tudjman and his party, Popovic said Sunday.
more than 50 percent of the votes required for outright victo- "Of course they now want liberation. Of course they have
ry, the polls suggested. In that case, the top two candidates had enough of the regime, and of course they want econom-
will compete in a runoff Feb. 7. ic prosperity, and so on," said Popovic, who runs a small
Still, after the dramatic victory in parliamentary elections Zagreb publishing house. "But the switch is too extreme to be
Jan. 3 by a center-left coalition led by Prime Minister-designate convincing."
Ivica Racan, yesterday's vote was expected to be an anticlimax. Protesters are likely to be in Zagreb's streets as soon as real
During the campaign, all three front-runners agreed that spring arrives and the snow melts, added Silva Meznaric, a
Croatia cannot afford to have an all-powerful president like sociologist at the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies
Tudjman anymore, and Racan is determined to shift more researcher center here.

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