Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1996: WORLD-AFFAIRS: FRANCE in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 1996: WORLD-AFFAIRS: FRANCE

France: France Elects a President In January 1995 conservative Prime Minister douard Balladur felt fairly confident that he could easily win the forthcoming presidential election and succeed Franois Mitterrand, the ailing Socialist who had held the job for two consecutive seven-year terms. Jacques Delors, the outgoing Socialist president of the European Commission, who had been tipped as the most popular candidate, had decided not to run, which left the Socialist Party (PS) in disarray. Former prime minister Jacques Chirac (see BIOGRAPHIES), now the mayor of Paris and head of the neo-Gaullist Rally for the Republic, the party to which Balladur belonged, had pushed Balladur forward for prime minister in 1993 in order to devote himself to preparations for this election. At the start of 1995, however, Chirac, making his third run for the presidency, was seen as yesterday's man, barely polling 17% against Balladur's 55%. Balladur's high popularity ratings had survived a series of crises in 1994, and he looked set to weather new student strikes over a proposed university reform announced on Dec. 29, 1994, and suspended on Feb. 10, 1995. On January 18 Balladur declared his candidacy, and on February 13 he formally launched his campaign. This final confirmation that he was running against his old political mentor Chirac gave rise to calls of treason among many Gaullists and, as it turned out, voters. Within days Balladur's high standing in the polls started an inexorable slide, harmed by the loss of his image as a selfless servant of the state who had vowed that he would not run. Meanwhile, Chirac's relentless campaigning throughout France started bearing fruit. He spoke on social themes, such as unemployment and homelessness, and appeared as the opponent of the establishment embodied by Balladur. By early March, Chirac's political image had been transformed from old tired politico to new people's advocate. On February 3 a nationwide vote among PS members gave Lionel Jospin a 65.8% majority over the party's first secretary, Henri Emmanuelli, making Jospin the main opposition candidate. The Communist candidate, the relatively unknown Robert Hue, had declared as early as September 1994. The rest of the field included National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, the anti-European Union and pro-life campaigner Philippe de Villiers, the unknown retired businessman Jacques Cheminade, the Green candidate Dominique Voynet, and the Trotskyist candidate Arlette Laguiller, who was running for the fourth time since 1974. Laguiller's obvious sincerity and loyalty to her lifelong ideals earned her respect and sympathy far beyond party lines; ultimately she polled 5.3% of the vote in the first round, more than either Villiers or Voynet. Balladur's progressive fall from grace was hastened by a political scandal involving Interior Minister Charles Pasqua. The division of the conservative vote between Chirac and Balladur caused Jospin to come in first in the first round on April 23, polling 23.3% of the vote, while Chirac scored 20.84% and Balladur won 18.58%. Balladur immediately called on his supporters to vote for Chirac, who was elected president in the runoff on May 7 with 52.64% of the vote against 47.36% for Jospin. (ANNE-ELISABETH MOUTET) GABON Gabon is a republic of central Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 267,667 sq km (103,347 sq mi). Pop.: (1995 est.): 1,156,000. Cap.: Libreville. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 501.49 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 792.78 = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Omar Bongo; prime minister, Paulin Obame-Nguema. After the violent protests that nearly paralyzed the government in 1994, 1995 proved to be one of compromise and cooperation between Pres. Omar Bongo's Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) and the opposition parties. A new electoral code requiring a complete revision of the voters list was agreed upon. All parties urged their members to back the new constitution in a referendum on July 23. Approximately 63.5% of the electorate voted in the referendum, 96.5% of whom approved the constitution. New presidential and legislative elections were scheduled for early 1997. The government stepped up its campaign to control immigration, setting a deadline of February 15 for illegal aliens to regularize their status. Few were able to do so since the cost of a residence permit had risen to CFAF 1 million. A new marriage bill proposed by the government that would make polygamy easier drew fierce protests from women's groups. Television and radio journalists staged a series of strikes beginning in March. Protesting the government's placement of patronage workers in their ranks, the strikers threatened to block publicity for the constitutional referendum. Broadcasts resumed on June 30 after the government agreed to integrate the patronage employees into the journalists association and to establish a new job classification rating system. In April President Bongo threatened to withdraw from OPEC unless Gabon's production quota, the cartel's smallest, was increased. Neither his visit to Kuwait for talks on the matter nor the September visit to Gabon of OPEC's secretary-general resolved the issue. The introduction of a value-added tax on April 1 resulted in a huge leap in the price of consumer goods, forcing the government in August to impose price controls on basic foodstuffs. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER) This updates the article Gabon, history of. GAMBIA, THE A republic and member of the Commonwealth, The Gambia extends from the Atlantic Ocean along the lower Gambia River in West Africa; it is surrounded by Senegal. Area: 10,689 sq km (4,127 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 1,115,000. Cap.: Banjul. Monetary unit: dalasi, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 9.65 dalasis to U.S. $1 (15.26 dalasis = 1 sterling). Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council in 1995, Capt. Yahya Jammeh. Two members of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council who had opposed plans to hand power back to civilian rule earlier than originally intended led an attempt to overthrow the government in January 1995. The two, Capt. Sana Sabally (vice-chairman of the Council) and Capt. Sadibu Hydara, minister of the interior, failed in their attempt, and they were arrested by the head of the government, Capt. Yahya Jammeh. Donor countries exerted pressure throughout the year to persuade The Gambia to return to civilian rule, and on March 20 Jammeh announced a Cabinet reshuffle in an exercise to convince outsiders that he would soon restore such a government. But the following day Fafa Idrissa M'baye, who had just been dismissed as minister of justice and attorney general, was arrested for advocating an early return to civilian rule. In November the junta reportedly extended the power of the security forces to detain suspected opponents without charge for up to three months. As many as 40 people had been detained for a week in October. (GUY ARNOLD) This updates the article Gambia, history of The. GEORGIA A republic of Transcaucasia, Georgia borders Russia on the north and northeast, Azerbaijan on the southeast, Armenia and Turkey on the south, and the Black Sea on the west. Area: 69,492 sq km (26,831 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 5,514,000. Cap.: T'bilisi. Monetary unit: lari, with (Oct. 4, 1995) a free rate of 1.30 lari = U.S. $1 (2.07 lari = 1 sterling); the lari replaced the Georgian coupon (a transitional currency) from September 25 at a rate of 1 lari = 1 million coupons. Head of state in 1995 (chairman of Parliament, and from November 26, president), Eduard A. Shevardnadze; prime minister to October 5, Otar Patsatsia, and secretary of state from December 8, Niko Lekishvili. After three years of civil war, rampant crime, and economic collapse, in 1995 the situation in Georgia began to stabilize. Parliament Chairman Eduard Shevardnadze escaped an assassination attempt and finally succeeded in neutralizing those political figures who helped his return to Georgia in 1992 but had since become rivals. Two of these, former prime minister Tengiz Sigua and former defense minister Tengiz Kitovani, were arrested in January after making a symbolic march on the breakaway western region of Abkhazia with the aim of forcing the region back under central government control. The series of political assassinations that began in 1993 continued during the first half of the year. Shevardnadze himself suffered only minor injuries in late August when a car bomb exploded as his motorcade was leaving the Parliament building in T'bilisi. The Georgian security service chief, Igor Giorgadze, was held responsible for this and several previous terrorist incidents and fled to Russia. In August Parliament finally endorsed a new constitution that defined Georgia as a presidential republic. Presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled for November 5. Shevardnadze was elected president with about 73% of the vote, defeating five rival candidates, including his successor as Georgian Communist Party first secretary, Dzhumber Patiashvili, and hard-line communist Panteleimon Giorgadze (Igor's father). Similarly, Shevardnadze's Union of Citizens of Georgia gained a 124-seat majority in the new 235-seat Parliament. Paramilitary leader Dzhaba Ioseliani, who failed in his bid for reelection, was arrested in mid-November on charges of involvement in the August car bomb attack on Shevardnadze. In late November Shevardnadze implemented changes in the structure of executive power, replacing the post of prime minister with that of secretary of state. He then formed a new government, retaining the former ministers for economics and defense but appointing as foreign minister former deputy prime minister Irakli Menagharishvili. The stringent fiscal and monetary policy adopted in December 1994 brought hyperinflation under control, and by late February the interim currency, the coupon, had gained in value against the dollar. A new currency, the lari, was introduced in September and maintained its value, thanks in part to a second International Monetary Fund loan. Greater political stability stimulated an increase in industrial output of 20% during the first 11 months of the year. The decision in October to export some oil from Azerbaijan via Georgia engendered hopes of an economic upswing. The standoff between the central government in T'bilisi and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continued. The apparent inability of the Russian peacekeeping force stationed in Abkhazia to prevent reprisals against the Georgian population there in the early part of the year induced Georgian politicians to demand their withdrawal. Angered by the Abkhazian leadership's expressions of support for Chechnya and their repeated refusal to discuss a Russian draft settlement giving Abkhazia federal status within Georgia, Moscow imposed a naval blockade on the Abkhazian port of Sukhumi in October. Peacekeepers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe prevented violence in South Ossetia, but only minimal progress was made toward a political settlement there. In March an agreement was signed giving Russia the right to maintain three military bases in Georgia; a further bilateral agreement on economic cooperation was signed in September. At the same time, Georgia sought to expand economic ties with neighbouring Turkey and Iran. (ELIZABETH FULLER) This updates the article Georgia, history of. GHANA A republic of West Africa and member of the Commonwealth, Ghana lies on the Gulf of Guinea. Area: 238,533 sq km (92,098 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 16,472,000. Cap.: Accra. Monetary unit: cedi, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 1,315 cedis to U.S. $1 (2,079 cedis = 1 sterling). Chairman of the Provisional National Defense Council and president in 1995, Jerry John Rawlings. Kwesi Botchwey, Ghana's minister of finance, presented the 1995 budget at the beginning of February; he set a growth target of 5% for the year and sought to reduce the rate of inflation by 25%. The 1994 budget had yielded an $80 million surplus (after two deficit years). The prices of gasoline and kerosene were increased by 25%, and the minimum wage was increased from 790 cedis a month to 1,200 as of February 1. During the first 11 days of May, the government was shaken by demonstrations against the 17.5% value-added tax that had been introduced as part of the 1995 budget. The violence led to five deaths and forced Botchwey to scrap the new measures in June and replace them with the former sales tax. After 13 years as finance minister, Botchwey resigned in July. On February 8 Pres. Jerry Rawlings granted an amnesty to a number of prisoners to mark the second anniversary of Ghana's Fourth Republic. There was a renewal of ethnic violence in the north during March between the Konkomba and an alliance of the Namumba, Dagomba, and Gonja, and about 100 people were killed; the situation was potentially more dangerous than in 1994 because both sides had acquired automatic weapons. Peace moves were supervised by the minister of defense, Mahama Iddrissu, and a joint committee of Konkomba and Namumba was formed. The government set aside $1.2 million to aid an estimated 200,000 people who had been displaced in the conflict since it began in 1994. In July Rawlings made an official and successful state visit to Britain, and later that month, prior to serving as host of the annual Economic Community of West African States meeting in Accra, he also made a surprise visit to Togo for talks with Pres. Gnassingb Eyadma. Relations between the two countries had not been good. By late September the various opposition parties were beginning to prepare for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 1996. (GUY ARNOLD) This updates the article Ghana, history of. GREECE The republic of Greece occupies the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and several adjoining island groups in southeastern Europe, in and between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,493,000. Cap.: Athens. Monetary unit: drachma, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 234.67 drachmas to U.S. $1 (370.97 drachmas = 1 sterling). Presidents in 1995, Konstantinos Karamanlis and, from March 10, Kostis Stefanopoulos; prime minister, Andreas Papandreou. Despite some bold moves by the socialist government of Andreas Papandreou to rectify the course of the economy and mend fences in the Balkans, political uncertainty prevailed throughout 1995 as a result of the prime minister's weakening physical condition. Papandreou, who publicly thanked his wife, Dimitra, for helping him recover from critical heart surgery in 1988, shrugged off outraged protests over the construction of a luxury villa for her, the so-called pink villa scandal. Criticism came mainly from within Papandreou's own party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok). In February the minister of justice resigned, accusing the prime minister's entourage of unwarranted interference; in August a Pasok deputy was ousted from the party for publicly deploring the role of the prime minister's wife, which led Pasok cadres to openly urge a change of leadership. In September, Industry Minister Kostas Simitis resigned, stating that he refused to be a yes-man. His departure prompted a Cabinet reshuffle on September 15 that purged those of doubtful loyalty to Papandreou. When the second five-year term of Pres. Konstantinos Karamanlis was due to expire in May, Papandreou decided to support the candidate proposed by the small Political Spring party, Kostis Stefanopoulos, a respected former politician. The post was largely ceremonial. Papandreou had been hospitalized for pneumonia in November, and his health continued to deteriorate during the rest of 1995. He underwent dialysis treatments as his kidneys began to fail, and by late December his breathing was being continually assisted by a respirator. Because he had not named a successor, political uncertainty was widespread throughout Greece and all of Europe. Political uncertainty was all the more unwelcome in a year when the finance minister, Alexandros Papadopoulos, pushed through unpopular fiscal reforms and enforced a tight budgetary discipline. By April year-on-year inflation had dropped to single digits for the first time in 23 years; by the end of September it stood at 8.4%. The parity of the drachma remained remarkably stable, and interest rates on state bonds fell by 3.25 points to 14.25% in October. Nonetheless, the basic structure of the economy remained weak. The public debt stood at 115% of gross domestic product, the trade balance sagged, and there were delays in privatization. The government wavered between pledges of social justice and the need to abide by the European Union's convergence program in order to bring Greece's economy in line with the rest of the EU by 1999. This required massive layoffs to make ailing state enterprises solvent enough to attract private investors. The prospect of early elections, which would tempt parties to forsake austerity in favour of votes, discouraged serious buyers. Major infrastructure projects that would have lowered the unemployment rate, which had soared above 10%, suffered further delays during the year. The $2.5 billion contract for a major international airport for Athens was signed in August, though, and was promptly ratified by Parliament. The United States government actively intervened to ease tensions between Greece and its neighbours. Following pressure from Washington, in February the Albanian regime released five leaders of the Greek minority party Omonia who had been convicted of subversion. Greek police later arrested a band of seven armed extremists and charged them with conspiring to disrupt relations with Albania. A joint committee prepared a draft friendship and cooperation treaty, but when the Albanian foreign minister, Alfred Sereki, paid a return visit to Athens early in September, the talks broke down over a Greek proposal regarding Greek minority schools in Albania. An interim agreement with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia was signed in New York on September 13, thanks to American mediation. The accord did not resolve the conflict over the name Macedonia, which the Greeks said implied territorial claims on the adjacent Greek province of the same name. Both sides eventually pledged to respect each other's frontiers and territorial integrity. The former Yugoslav republic formally declared that nothing in its constitution should be construed as implying revanchism against Greece or any intention to interfere in Greece's internal affairs. It further agreed to replace on its national flag the image of the so-called Star of Vergina, an ancient Macedonian emblem associated with Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. In return, Greece agreed to lift its trade embargo imposed 19 months earlier. An assassination attempt against Macedonian Pres. Kiro Gligorov on October 3 came just as delegations from the two countries were meeting in Athens to implement the interim agreement. Any motives for the attempt were unknown, and both sides expressed hope that the outrage would not hamper their efforts to restore relations. Tensions with Turkey, the main foreign policy problem for Greece, persisted despite U.S. efforts to assist in resolving them. A meeting between Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Turkish counterpart, Erdal Inonu, in New York at the end of September simply underlined the sharp differences that divided the two countries. Those differences had been intensified by Greece's ratification of the Law of the Sea convention, which prompted the Turkish National Assembly to give the Ankara government authorization to use force if Greece extended its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea from 6 to 12 mi. The Greeks dismissed Turkey's calls for a diplomatic dialogue as a ploy to placate the European Parliament, which refused to ratify a EU-Turkey customs union unless Turkey drastically improved its human rights record. (MARIO MODIANO) GRENADA A constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, Grenada (with its dependency, the Southern Grenadines) is in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Area: 344 sq km (133 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 92,000. Cap.: Saint George's. Monetary unit: Eastern Caribbean dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of EC$2.70 to U.S. $1 (free rate of EC$4.27 = 1 sterling). Queen, Elizabeth II; governor-general in 1995, Reginald Palmer; prime ministers, Nicholas Brathwaite, George Brizan from February 1, and, from June 22, Keith Mitchell. In June 1995 the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government lost the general election to the New National Party (NNP), and Keith Mitchell, a 47-year-old former mathematics lecturer at Howard University, Washington, D.C., became the new prime minister. The NNP won 8 of the 15 parliamentary seats. Five were retained by the NDC, and two went to the Grenada United Labour Party, led by Sir Eric Gairy, who was prime minister of Grenada in 1979, when the left-wing New Jewel Movement, headed by Maurice Bishop, overthrew the government. The NNP's victory no doubt owed something to its promise to abolish the income tax. The tax had been dropped in 1986 but was reintroduced by the NDC in 1994. Grenada stepped up its fight against drug trafficking in February when it signed an assistance treaty with Britain that provided for the tracing, freezing, and confiscation of the assets of drug pushers. A series of strikes in key foreign exchange-earning industries, including hotels, sugar, and cocoa, took place in March and April. A more serious threat was posed to the nutmeg industry by the sustained fall in prices on world markets. Grenada and Indonesia were the world's main nutmeg suppliers, and the two got together in May to continue efforts begun in 1994 to stabilize the price and encourage greater use of nutmeg. World demand had fallen to 9,000 metric tons in 1994, compared with production of 14,000 metric tons. (DAVID RENWICK) This updates the article Grenada. GUATEMALA A republic of Central America, Guatemala has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 108,889 sq km (42,042 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,621,000. Cap.: Guatemala City. Monetary unit: quetzal, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 5.92 quetzales to U.S. $1 (9.36 quetzales = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Ramiro de Len Carpio. Guatemalans went to the polls in November 1995 to vote for a new president. Alvaro Arz, candidate of the conservative National Advancement Party and former mayor of Guatemala City, finished first with about 42% of the votes, nearly twice as many as his nearest rival, Alfonso Portillo of the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG). Because no candidate received a majority of the votes, a runoff between Arz and Portillo was scheduled for Jan. 7, 1996. Economist Jorge Luis Gonzlez del Valle, the candidate of a new left-wing coalition, the New Guatemala Democratic Front, finished a surprising fourth in the field of 19. As in 1990, retired general Efran Ros Montt's bid to be the candidate of the FRG was blocked by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal because his previous presidency, in 1982-83, had been achieved as a result of a military coup. The FRG had been victorious in the 1994 congressional elections, and in January 1995 Ros Montt was named president of the Congress. Later in the year, however, the party's popularity plummeted, and several key members deserted it. In August the Supreme Court stripped Ros Montt and three other FRG congressmen of their immunity from prosecution so that they could be tried on charges of wiretapping, document forgery, and usurpation of powers. Peace negotiations between the government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity failed to keep to the schedule agreed upon at the beginning of the year. The talks were affected by the elections and the perceived weakness of the government, combined with reluctance to pursue them on the part of the army and entrenched interests such as large landowners. The United Nations Mission for Guatemala reported that the lack of punishment continued to be the most serious obstacle to achieving respect for human rights in Guatemala and described specific cases of torture, illegal detention, extrajudicial killings, and obstruction of justice, based on the 570 human rights cases reported to it in the three months ended May 21. (SARAH CAMERON) This updates the article Guatemala, history of. GUINEA The republic of Guinea is located in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 245,857 sq km (94,926 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 6.7 million (excluding 500,000-600,000 refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone). Cap.: Conakry. Monetary unit: Guinean franc, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of GF 992.70 to U.S. $1 (GF 1,569 = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Gen. Lansana Cont. Preparations for the often-postponed legislative elections dominated 1995. The Democratic Party of Guinea-African Democratic Rally, which finished last in the 1993 elections, suffered a further setback when a breakaway faction formed the Democratic Party of Guinea-Ahmed Skou Tour (PDG-AST) in January. Subsequently, the opposition parties regrouped. Most important, three opposition parties formed an alliance in April with the Rally of the Guinean People, led by Alpha Cond. That same month, after the government published its new electoral code banning Guineans living abroad from voting, various opposition groups organized demonstrations and threatened to boycott the elections. In May the opposition National Democratic Union of Guinea agreed to cooperate with the PDG-AST. Each of the opposition coalitions agreed to present one candidate list for each district. Despite these maneuvers, however, Pres. Lansana Cont's Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) won 71 of the 114 seats on June 11, and 5 additional seats were taken by other parties allied with the PUP. On July 6, opposition parties formed the Coordination of the Democratic Opposition (CODEM) and, charging the government with widespread vote fraud, announced that they would not take their 37 seats. Cont refused to negotiate with CODEM, insisting that such matters were the concern of the legislature and the judiciary. In September CODEM ended its boycott, and the opposition deputies took their seats. Real gross domestic product was expected to grow by 4.9% in 1995, although the inflation rate was likely to be higher than the government's target of 4%. In recognition of Guinea's improved economic performance, the Paris Club canceled $85 million of the nation's external debt and rescheduled repayments of another $85 million. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER) This updates the article Guinea, history of. GUINEA-BISSAU A republic of West Africa, Guinea-Bissau lies on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 36,125 sq km (13,948 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 1,073,000. Cap.: Bissau. Monetary unit: Guinea-Bissau peso, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 16,036 pesos to U.S. $1 (28,513 pesos = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Joo Bernardo Vieira; prime minister, Manuel Saturnino da Costa. In mid-January 1995 the International Monetary Fund approved a number of loans equivalent to $14 million to Guinea-Bissau to extend over a three-year period in support of the government's economic reform program. The first loan of $5 million was to be disbursed in semiannual installments. On October 10 negotiations between the government and the country's principal trade union resulted in a 50% increase in the minimum salary for the public sector. On June 12 Pres. Abdou Diouf of Senegal visited Guinea-Bissau to bring to an end a period of mutual hostility between the two countries. Pres. Joo Bernardo Vieira and Diouf issued a statement promising better economic relations between the two countries and signed an accord to share equally the offshore mineral and energy resources on their joint continental shelf. The two nations agreed to joint exploitation of an offshore oilfield that straddles their territorial waters. They also reaffirmed a 20-year agreement that committed them to joint management and exploitation of their maritime zones. In August, Kumba Iala, the defeated candidate in the 1994 presidential elections, denounced the government for entering into preferential relations with France. He also accused the government of causing an increase in prices, especially for rice, and denounced its record on human rights. (GUY ARNOLD) This updates the article Guinea-Bissau, history of. GUYANA A republic and member of the Commonwealth, Guyana is situated in northeastern South America, on the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 215,083 sq km (83,044 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 770,000. Cap.: Georgetown. Monetary unit: Guyana dollar, with (Oct. 6, 1995) an official rate of G$143.80 to U.S. $1 (G$227.33 = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Cheddi Jagan; prime minister, Sam Hinds. The government agreed in March 1995 to set up an official inquiry into the death in 1980 of the opposition political activist Walter Rodney, a historian of international repute. Rodney was blown up by a bomb concealed in a radio transmitter, and it was widely believed at the time that the government, headed by Forbes Burnham, was involved. The inquiry was to be conducted by an international commission. As part of its anticorruption drive, the government decided in April that it would require all public employees, including Pres. Cheddi Jagan, to declare their assets and liabilities to an independent tribunal. In July it was announced that six privatization deals would be completed by the end of the year. Entities to be sold included a government-owned pharmaceutical company and a mortgage bank. The Canadian company Alcan announced it would purchase as much as 300,000 metric tons of bauxite over the next three years. The contract was scheduled to take effect in March 1996 so that the company would have time to procure the spare parts needed for production. Guyana's worst environmental disaster took place in August when a retaining wall for a storage pond at the giant Omai gold mine collapsed and allowed 2.3 million cu m (3 million cu yd) of cyanide waste to contaminate parts of the Essequibo River, a major source of water and fish for tens of thousands of people. A commission of inquiry was set up, and the Canadian company that owned the mine offered compensation to those affected. (DAVID RENWICK) HAITI The republic of Haiti occupies the western one-third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Area: 27,700 sq km (10,695 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 6,589,000. Cap.: Port-au-Prince. Monetary unit: gourde, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 19 gourdes to U.S. $1 (30.04 gourdes = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Jean-Bertrand Aristide; prime ministers, Smarck Michel and, from November 7, Claudette Werleigh. In January 1995 U.S. commanders certified that a secure and stable environment had been achieved in Haiti since the military occupation of the nation began in September 1994, which thus allowed the 6,000 U.S. troops to be replaced by a UN force of the same size. Security was nevertheless fragile. In the absence of a trained police force and a working justice system, robberies and shootings were frequent, and there were several murders daily. People continued to flee the country by boat, but most were repatriated by U.S. authorities. In August more than 100 Haitian migrants were thrown overboard and drowned when an overcrowded boat began to sink on its way to The Bahamas. At the end of January a $1 billion aid package was approved in Paris, but the money was slow in reaching Haiti, which led to resentment at the delay. The International Finance Corporation agreed to oversee the unpopular privatization of 9 of Haiti's 33 state enterprises, with the proceeds to be used for improving rural roads, hospitals, pension funds, and education. The International Monetary Fund offered a $31 million standby facility, with economic targets including annual inflation of 15%, growth of gross domestic product of 4.5%, and an increase in foreign reserves of $45 million during the year. The Inter-American Development Bank disbursed loans of $30 million for balance of payments support and $5.8 million for infrastructural development and a grant of $600,000 for the implementation of government projects. In May the Paris Club of creditor countries agreed to cancel $75 million of bilateral debt, with the remainder to be rescheduled over 23 years. In February Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide weakened the Haitian army's power by retiring all 43 of its officers who held a rank above major. The president said in April that he would ask the legislature to amend the constitution in order to abolish the army. The Provisional Electoral Council announced that elections would be held in two rounds, on June 4 and June 25, for the 83-member Chamber of Deputies, for 18 of the 27 Senate seats, and for about 2,000 local council posts and 100 mayoralties. However, amid rising political dissension both within the government and in the opposition, the first round was delayed until June 25, with a second round on July 23 (for those seats that did not receive a majority in the first round). Many of the opposition parties threatened to boycott the elections and claimed that the president's Lavalas movement had taken control of the electoral machinery. In the first round of the elections, contested by 10,500 candidates, supporters of Lavalas swept the board. Voter turnout was low, less than 50%, although 90% of the 3.7 million electorate had registered to vote. Charging that the vote had been marked by fraud and a heavy pro-Aristide bias in the Provisional Electoral Council, the major opposition parties and many of the smaller groups decided to boycott the second round of the elections. President Aristide admitted that the elections could have been administered better and, after talks with the opposition parties, dismissed the president of the Provisional Electoral Council. It was decided that there would be reruns of the first round in many areas, with the second round not held until September. Reruns took place on August 13 and were orderly, although voter turnout was less than 33%. Most opposition candidates ignored the boycott order of their parties, but the Lavalas coalition again swept the board, winning all 34 of the seats theretofore decided. After the second round, on September 17, Lavalas candidates held 68 of the 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 17 of the 27 seats in the Senate. His party's victory notwithstanding, Aristide insisted that he would retire from office in 1996 despite calls for his term to be extended. Two candidates were announced for the presidential elections, scheduled to be held by the end of the year: Ernst Verdieu, the former social affairs minister and head of the Haitian branch of the Caritas aid agency, and Leon Jeune, the former deputy justice minister. Though an official tally of the December election was not immediately available, Aristide's handpicked successor, Ren Prval, was the winner by a landslide. High U.S. officials met with Prval after the balloting to discuss extending the stay of UN troops in Haiti. (SARAH CAMERON) This updates the article Haiti. HONDURAS A republic of Central America, Honduras has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Area: 112,492 sq km (43,433 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 5,512,000. Cap.: Tegucigalpa. Monetary unit: lempira, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 9.47 lempiras to U.S. $1 (15.40 lempiras = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Carlos Roberto Reina. In January 1995 the civilian-run Criminal Investigations Unit began operations, replacing the secret police, the National Investigation Unit, which was disbanded in 1994. The new force, initially of 1,500 agents, was trained by the Israeli police and the FBI of the U.S. Though the military remained involved in police work, the Legislative Assembly began the constitutional reform process to change control of the Public Security Forces from military to civilian hands. The police and the armed forces discussed ways in which they could combat the rising crime wave, which was claiming about 50 lives a day, as well as stem the trafficking of arms and drugs through Honduran territory. The constitutional reform to abolish obligatory military service, approved by the previous Congress in 1994, was ratified by the new Congress in April by 125 votes to 3. Pres. Carlos Roberto Reina's election campaign promise of a "moral revolution" and an anticorruption drive was put into effect by the courts with several notable investigations. In January the sister of the foreign minister was arrested for selling official passports; in April the minister, Ernesto Paz Aguilar, a close friend of Reina, resigned from the Cabinet, and in August he and six other government officials were detained in prison on fraud charges related to the sale of official passports. The Supreme Court of Justice revoked the immunity granted to former president Rafael Leonardo Callejas so that he could answer charges relating to the falsification of documents and misappropriation of funds. President Reina himself was investigated over the inappropriate use of state funds to resolve a private labour dispute. (SARAH CAMERON) This updates the article Honduras, history of. HUNGARY A republic, Hungary is a landlocked state in central Europe. Area: 93,030 sq km (35,919 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,231,000. Cap.: Budapest. Monetary unit: forint, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 131.49 forints to U.S. $1 (207.86 forints = 1 sterling). President in 1995, Arpad Goncz; prime minister, Gyula Horn. Three areas dominated the Hungarian scene in 1995--the economy, the stability of the coalition, and foreign relations. To the credit of the coalition, made up of the communist successors--the Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP) and the left-liberal Alliance of Free Democrats--in March the prime minister, Gyula Horn, finally decided to grasp the nettle and to introduce a far-reaching austerity package. The package was brought in by the new minister of finance, Lajos Bokros, and came to be known as the Bokros package. It was profoundly unpopular. Essentially, it was aimed at trimming the budget deficit by cutting back on government expenditure through introducing new taxes, scrapping allowances, and charging fees in certain circumstances. Furthermore, the Hungarian currency, the forint, would undergo creeping monthly devaluation, aimed at reducing its value against the Deutsche Mark by up to 20% over a year. The central problem was that Hungary had been living beyond its means for many years and subsidizing this through foreign credits. In 1995 the day of reckoning had arrived, not least because the country's deficit had reached about $3 billion, giving Hungary the highest per capita debt in Europe. The popularity of the government plummeted; the main beneficiary was the right-wing Independent Smallholders' Party. It was generally estimated, however, that eventually the coalition would regain its standing, though this would take time. It was notable that the government, not least the prime minister, had not been particularly successful in attempting to sell the Bokros package to the public. If anything, it was imposed with hardly any explanation. The austerity package was a bitter pill to swallow for the left of the HSP as well. The HSP regarded itself as a socialist party, and cutting welfare benefits was painful indeed. Several ministers resigned, and the left of the party spent a good deal of time grumbling. According to some estimates, anything up to a quarter of the HSP parliamentary caucus could not be relied on to vote for austerity measures. It was to placate the left that Horn sought to promote the trade union leader, Sandor Nagy, to a senior position in the government in August. But this move, which had not been coordinated with the Free Democrats, nearly destroyed the coalition entirely. The role of the Free Democrats was to provide Horn with the necessary votes to get the austerity package through against his own left wing, but otherwise he had little time for them; he had, after all, been raised as a communist politician, and the subtleties of coalition politics did not figure high in communist politicking. The attempt to impose a trade union leader on the coalition had the Free Democrats up in arms, and they made the rescinding of the appointment an issue of confidence. Eventually Horn retreated, having thereby lost face with both his left wing and his coalition partner. The general feeling, however, was that the

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