February 4, 1997 – BBC World Service – Newsdesk –
February 4, 1997 – Elections in Pakistan – Civil War in Zaire – Civil War in Colombia – Hostage drama in Lima – violent crackdowns on protestors in Belgrade bringing widespread condemnation – assassination of a Roman Catholic Bishop on The Philippines. Busy news day – as always, a lot going on in the world.
The elections in Pakistan were offering surprises. The government of incumbent Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was facing defeat at the polls from Muslim League candidate Nawaz Sharif in a better-than-expected victory for the first-time party.
The elections were a fierce contest between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by pre-election Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) led by Nawaz Sharif. Sharif benefited from the controversial death of Bhutto’s brother Murtaza, a populist leader, a worsening economy, and alleged corruption cases against Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari.
The elections took place after the previous PPP government was dismissed by President Farooq Leghari for matters of national security. Bhutto’s government suffered with financial mismanagement, corruption charges, racial tensions in her native Sindh Province, issues with the judiciary, violations of the constitution, and intra-party and family feuds. After the PPP government was dismissed, a caretaker government was formed under the leadership of Malik Meraj Khalid.
The result was a victory for the PML (N), which received most votes ever won by an opposition party. This was the first time PML-N had won an election without being part of any alliance. Sharif subsequently became Prime Minister for a second non-consecutive term. Voter turnout was only 36.0%.
In other news – gunmen in the Philippines shot dead a Roman Catholic Bishop on the southern island of Jolo. He was shot in the head outside his cathedral. The attackers had no been identified and no motive had been established.
Rebels fighting the Zairan Army took the town of Kilemi in the southern province of Shaba, gaining ground for the rebel army.
The Colombian Army was sending reinforcements to a jungle area near Bogota, site of an ambush of government troops by left-wing guerrillas earlier in the week.
And Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori confirmed that he’d been asking a number of countries if they would offer asylum to the rebels currently holding hostages in Lima. So far, no takers.
And that’s just a small slice of what was going on in the world in general via the BBC World Service program Newsdesk for February 4, 1997.