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News Briefs 1

Bosnian Party Calls for Boycott

The Washington Post
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia's main Muslim party called on its supporters Wednesday to temporarily boycott next month's elections following a decision by the American official organizing the vote to delay the municipal part of the voting.

The move by the Party of Democratic Action, which was joined by two other Muslim parties, added to the confusion surrounding the decision by retired U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick to postpone municipal elections in 109 towns. On Tuesday, Frowick ordered those elections postponed because of widespread fraud carried out by all sides but particularly by the Bosnian Serbs. Frowick also ordered that the rest of Bosnia's elections - for a multiethnic presidency, two parliaments and cantonal governments - should go ahead as scheduled on Sept. 14.

The Muslim party's statement Wednesday was addressed to its supporters among the 641,010 refugees who registered to vote outside Bosnia. Voting by absentee ballot was set to begin Wednesday. The Muslim party said it needs more time to consult with the other parties competing in the elections about Frowick's decision.

Treasury Rejects Farrakhan Gift

The Washington Post

The Treasury Department on Wednesday rejected a request from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for permission to receive a $1 billion gift from Libya, which has been barred from virtually all economic transactions with U.S. citizens because of it alleged terrorist links.

In a letter to lawyers for Farrakhan, the director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, R. Richard Newcomb, cited several reasons for the denial, including the belief that Libya is "a strong supporter of terrorist groups."

The denial also bars Farrakhan from receiving the $250,000 prize that comes with a Libyan human rights award he is to receive from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Past winners of the award include South African President Nelson Mandela.

"There is no basis in law or common sense for this action," said Rufus Cook, a Chicago lawyer representing Farrakhan. "It is an action taken in callous disregard of the needs and hopes of black people, at a time when their needs are dire and their hopes under assault."

Russian Army Continues Withdrawal

The Washington Post

The drive to end the war in Chechnya edged forward Wednesday, with both Russian and Chechen troops pulling out of its devastated capital, military commanders negotiating further steps toward demilitarization, and the violence of the last 20 months coming to a halt.

But there remained uncertainty about whether Russia's national security chief, Alexander Lebed, could get approval both from Moscow and from the Chechen separatists for an ambitious political agreement that would postpone for five years a decision on the breakaway region's final status.

Lebed, who left Chechnya for Moscow on Sunday in hopes of conferring with President Boris Yeltsin about his political blueprint for ending the conflict, has yet to win an audience with Yeltsin, who is secluded at a government vacation lodge 60 miles from Moscow. As of Wednesday night, Yeltsin's press secretary, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said there were no plans for a meeting with Lebed.

Yastrzhembsky told reporters that Yeltsin has studied a written report on the plans submitted by Lebed this week and issued new "instructions" that "provide more details to the settlement steps and consolidate the peace process in Chechnya."

It was not clear if this was intended as the green light that Lebed has been seeking, but his press secretary, Alexander Barkhatov, announced that Lebed plans to return to Chechnya shortly. He said Lebed was still waiting for a phone call or meeting with Yeltsin, who has largely slipped out of view since his reelection July 3.

Lebed's plan includes a proposed election in Chechnya and a referendum after five years on its status.