World Briefs

May 1, 1996
Web posted at: 1:20 a.m. EDT (0520 GMT)

Violence precedes end to Indian election

India elections

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- As candidates finished campaigning Tuesday, at least six people were killed in violence connected to India's month-long parliamentary elections.

India's election committee, fearing further violence, issued a "shoot on sight" order for anyone caught tampering with ballot boxes in the northern state of Bihar, where police believe Hindu high-caste and low-caste voters may clash. The order applies to 18 of 54 constituencies involved in Thursday's election.

The latest killings bring the death toll to 44 since campaigning for elections for federal parliament began a month ago.

The vote, to be staggered over six days, ends May 30.

South African workers stage massive one-day strike

South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of workers responded to a call by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Tuesday to stage a massive one-day strike to protest a proposed section in the new constitution.

In particular, COSATU is concerned about a clause that guarantees workers the right to strike but also allows businesses to lock out those striking workers.

Analysts said the strike is only partially about the new constitution. It really is a reminder to Nelson Mandela's African National Congress of the power and support COSATU wields, they said.

For Mandela's government, the strike could not come at a worse time. The government is struggling to unite the various political and economic sectors and the Rand, South Africa's currency, has depreciated nearly 18 percent since February.

U.S. warns Cuban protesters of 'serious danger'


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As Cuba mounts its first May Day celebration in three years, the U.S. is warning organizers of an anti-Castro flotilla of potentially "serious danger."

The May Day celebration on the island is scheduled to display Cuban pride and to oppose the American embargo formalized by the Helms-Burton Act. The protest flotilla is being organized to oppose the Castro regime and to recall the downing of two civilian planes by the Cuban military over international waters February 24.

The U.S., in a written message, reminded protest organizers that Cuba has "proved itself willing to take actions in clear violation of international law and international aviation standards."

To avoid a repeat of February incident, the U.S. told Cuba of the planned flotilla and cautioned Havana to comply with international law.

Castro to crack down on prostitution


HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- President Fidel Castro called on Cubans to wipe out prostitution and preserve the island's "healthy" image so it will remain attractive to tourists.

In a message that was broadcast on state television late Monday, Castro said international tourists were attracted in part by the "order, moral rectitude and healthy spirit" of Cuba. Castro stressed that the country could not accept prostitution.

Prostitution was banned after Castro's 1959 revolution, but it has sprung up again in recent years amid economic hardship and an influx of international tourists, some of who are single men looking for cheap sex.

Castro claimed that once prostitution is eradicated, tourism will expand.

China bans Dalai Lama photos in Tibet


BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Chinese authorities have reportedly begun removing pictures of the Dalai Lama, the political and religious leader that Tibetans revere as a god-king, from restaurants and hotels in the capital of Lhasa.

The ban is another sign of tighter religious restrictions in Tibet and appeared to be an extension of earlier attempts to rid Lhasa of the photographs.

Tibetans see the photographs as a link to their leader. Beijing sees them as heresy because Communists are supposed to be atheists.

China has criticized the Lama, saying he is not qualified to lead Tibetan Buddhism and that he wants to lead the country toward independence. The Dalai Lama says he simply wants cultural autonomy for Tibetans.

China sent its army into Tibet in 1950 and formally took it over a year later, claiming Tibet historically was Chinese territory. The Dalai Lama fled into exile after a failed 1959 uprising.

Tasmania mourns victims of slaughter

Memorial service

HOBART, Australia (CNN) -- Australia observed a moment of silence during a memorial service Wednesday morning for 35 people who died in the worst massacre in the country's history.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Tasmanian officials attended the service at St. David's Cathedral, one of three held simultaneously on Tasmania.

Governor General Sir William Deane, Opposition leader Kim Beazley, and Tony Rundle, the Premier of Tasmania, joined Howard in representing state dignitaries at the service.

The service was televised live across Australia.

U.N. operating budget goes dry

UN bankruptcy

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations' operating budget officially runs out of money on Tuesday, and Joseph Connor, the body's top accountant, describes its financial picture as "precarious."

Connor said the U.N. will borrow up to $50 million from its peacekeeping budget to keep the organization operating. He blamed the shortfall on member countries who are delinquent on their dues -- primarily the United States.

The United States owes $1.5 billion of the $2.8 billion the U.N. is owed by its members. Next on the debtor list are the Russian Federation, which owes $400 million, and Ukraine, at $250 million.

Russia has agreed to pay its debt in full by the end of the year. The United States is expected to pay only about $256 million this year.

Related stories:

South Koreans walk out of communication conference

Korea meeting

ATHENS, Georgia (CNN) -- Tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula, where South and North Korea remain in a state of war. But in Georgia, the chill seemed to thaw for a while as delegations from both sides gathered for conferences aimed at bridging the communications gap between them.

Then reality set in as the South Korean delegation walked out before the second session began, reportedly because of political sensitivities.

Han S. Park, the forum's organizer, had high hopes for the meeting of scholars. "We're here to show the world that peoples of different values, differing experiences, differing systems and ideologies can sit down together, can exchange ideas, can perhaps develop the art of communication," he said.

Tensions have risen between the two Koreas in recent weeks as North Korea announced it would no longer honor the armistice that concluded the Korean War, then sent troops into the demilitarized zone for what it called training exercises.

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