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Vote your conscience, but it would be better if you chose to remain allied with Indonesia, President B.J. Habibie told residents of East Timor as they prepared for today's crucial referendum on autonomy. Meanwhile, Indonesia's military said it couldn't guarantee security for the 450,000 registered voters despite the presence of heavily armed troops and police - and an agreement by pro- and anti-independence militias to give up their weapons before the balloting.

Even harsher measures may be taken against members of Congress who defied an order stripping them of most of their powers, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez said. Leaders of the pro-Chvez Constitutional Assembly, which has declared itself the country's supreme power, said it was considering proposals to disband Congress after some lawmakers tried Friday to reconvene. Forty people were hurt in street fighting that followed. Legislators said they'd try to exercise the few powers they have left to block government spending and trips abroad by Chavez.

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A revised agreement on implementing the Wye Plantation peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians may be reached as soon as today, both sides said. The long-delayed pact, which requires Israel to yield more of the West Bank, now hinges on the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, they said. It was hoped the revision could be signed Thursday in Cairo during a visit by Secretary of State Albright, who is visiting the Middle East.

A whole new arsenal of weapons, notably high-velocity sniper rifles, is being assembled by the Irish Republican Army, London's Sunday Times reported, citing government intelligence sources. The IRA's refusal even to begin surrendering its stockpile of arms continues to block implementation of last year's Northern Ireland peace deal. Last week, British Cabinet minister for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam angered the province's Protestant majority by saying the IRA's two-year-old unilateral truce - although imperfect - remains intact.

A rebel attack that lasted from midnight to dawn rocked the capital of Burundi, resulting in at least 46 deaths, reports said. The attack was blamed on Hutu rebels who appeared to be targeting Bujumbura neighborhoods inhabited by minority Tutsis. It came as a new round of negotiations - seen as crucial if the country's fragile peace process is to take hold - draws near in neighboring Tanzania.

To avoid further angering the communist regime in China, members of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party stopped short of resolving that the call for state-to-state relations by President Lee Teng Hui be written into the Constitution. But they formally adopted his proclamation in the party's mission statement. Lee's July 9 call unleashed weeks of furious rhetoric from Beijing, which warned that writing it into the charter could lead to a military attack.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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