World Watch

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South Antrim
A fresh crisis gripped the Northern Ireland peace process with an election victory by the Democratic Unionist Party, staunch opponent of 1998 Good Friday agreement. The d.u.p., led by the fiery Rev. Ian Paisley, rode a Protestant backlash against the accord to snatch a seat in Britain's Parliament, which had long been a stronghold of their rivals in the pro-agreement Ulster Unionist Party (u.u.p.). The win threatened to undermine First Minister David Trimble's leadership of the u.u.p. and paralyze negotiations over policing and the decommissioning of weapons.

A small missile struck the headquarters of Britain's foreign intelligence agency, MI6, causing minimal damage but creating commuter chaos as police sealed off roads and temporarily halted Eurostar train service. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion focused on the Real i.r.a, a splinter group opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process. Police found part of a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in a park near the landmark building on the River Thames.

The European Central Bank intervened for the first time to boost the value of its fledgling currency, the euro. The U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan joined with the E.C.B. to buy euros with dollars and yen, catching foreign exchange traders off guard. Although the euro rose several U.S. cents after the central banks entered the market, foreign exchange analysts could not agree on whether the currency, which had lost more than 27% of its value since its debut in January 1999, would now stabilize.

Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his rival Vojislav Kostunica ended their campaign for the Yugoslav federal election in an atmosphere saturated with threats and accusations of vote rigging. Polls showed that Kostunica had a considerable lead over Milosevic, despite the government's systematic harrassment of opposition activities and Kostunica's almost total lack of access to the broadcast media throughout the campaign.

Troops loyal to Ivory Coast's military ruler General Robert Gueï arrested at least 14 soldiers they claimed were involved in an assassination attempt on the junta leader. Gueï said that a small group of soldiers had attacked his home but had been repelled. Security forces searched the home of the government's second-in-command, General Lassana Palenfo, and authorities banned political rallies until shortly before the Oct 22 presidential elections.

Cape Town
South African President Thabo Mbeki sought to clarify his position on aids, saying the government's program to combat the disease acknowledged a link between HIV and AIDS. Addressing Parliament in response to mounting criticism of the government's AIDS policy, Mbeki said he stood by his view that the HIV virus was not the sole cause of AIDS. "But I have no problem that this virus contributes to the collapse of the immune system," he said. His comments supported a document drawn up by the a.n.c.'s health committee and came after criticism from the country's powerful trade union federation cosatu, the Human Rights Commission, the Treatment Action Campaign and the Anglican Church.

A military court sentenced six men to death for planning attacks against Israeli and U.S. targets during millennium celebrations in the Jordanian capital. Four of the defendants remain at large and were tried in absentia. The three-man State Security Council acquitted six others and imposed prison terms ranging from seven-and-a-half years to life on another 16 defendants. The court cleared the 28 men of charges of belonging to an illegal organization linked to Saudi militant Osama bin Laden. Defense lawyers said they would appeal the verdicts.