In Sierra Leone, military leader hands over power to...

FOREIGN DIGEST

March 30, 1996

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE — In Sierra Leone, military leader hands over power to civilian

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- Tens of thousands of jubilant Sierra Leoneans celebrated in their capital, Freetown, yesterday the army returned power to the civilians after four years of ruling over this West African country.

Military leader Julius Maada Bio, who seized power in a January palace coup, handed the ceremonial staff of office to President-elect Ahmad Tejan Kabbah at a colorful ceremony in the run-down capital's Parliament building.

Mr. Tejan Kabbah, 64, pledged to make a complete break with past violence, greed and corruption and to meet with rebel leader Foday Sankoh at the earliest opportunity. Mr. Sankoh said he was ready to travel to Freetown to meet the new president.

Guatemalans, U.N. advisers at odds on rights abuses

UNITED NATIONS

UNITED NATIONS -- After presenting a human rights report that a U.N. human rights expert called a "fairy tale," Guatemalan officials admitted that abuses are still a serious problem.

Vicente Arranz Sanz, chairman of Guatemala's Presidential Human Rights Committee, blamed the abuses on poverty, problems in the judiciary and security forces, and a lack of public confidence after 35 years of civil war.

U.N. human rights advisers this week also cited the government's apparent inability to prosecute soldiers, policemen and paramilitary forces for murder and other abuses. Roman Catholic authorities estimate there were about 400 politically motivated murders, mainly of peasants, during the first six months of 1995.

Mrs. Clinton urges leaders to aid women, children

ATHENS, Greece

ATHENS, Greece -- U.S. first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton toured the birthplace of democracy yesterday and urged world leaders to perfect the system of self-government spawned in Greece by improving the lives of women and children.

Speaking to prominent Athenians, Mrs. Clinton said democracy can flourish only when all citizens are treated with dignity and respect.

Too many children are "hungry, unhealthy, unschooled and unloved," she said. Too many women lack "the tools of opportunity," such as legal protection and good health care.

Rights watchdogs prod Australia on Aborigines

SYDNEY, Australia

SYDNEY, Australia -- Amnesty International said yesterday that Australia had made little progress dealing with abuses of Aborigines in the past four years and alleged that some aboriginal prisoners were kept in leg-irons and chains for up to 24 hours.

The human rights group said it was appalled by the lack of progress in curbing high rates of jailings and deaths in custody among Aborigines.

A pattern of ill-treatment and arbitrary arrests occurs against a backdrop of "systemic discrimination against Aborigines," said Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel, a member of the Amnesty International team that has spent the past month in Australia.

Fire kills at least 77 at Indonesian retail center

BOGOR, Indonesia

BOGOR, Indonesia -- At least 77 people were reported killed in a blaze that razed a shopping center in Bogor, but the toll could be much higher.

A department store official said he believed that about 200 people were in the store, on the top floor of the three-story building, when fire broke out at dawn Thursday and raged for most of the day.

A police official said that the fire, reported to be the fifth in the building since 1987, was believed to have been caused by a short-circuit. Indonesia has suffered a spate of fires this year, including at Jakarta's police headquarters and a university building

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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