People: Bhutto braces for errant brother's election challenge

Click to follow
The Independent Online
AN UNEXPECTED challenge - or a bit of political sibling rivalry - may confront Benazir Bhutto in Pakistani elections in October. Her brother Murtaza Bhutto, a suspected terrorist living in self-imposed exile in Syria, wants to run in both the general and provincial polls. Analysts say he could pose a serious threat to his sister.

Murtaza said he would run as an independent rather than under the banner of Benazir's Pakistan People's Party. That could split support within the party, seen largely as a family preserve. It is unclear how much popularity Murtaza commands and his legal problems could make his return to Pakistan difficult. He would probably have to stand trial on 12 counts of terrorism and air piracy as head of the outlawed al-Zulfikar organisation, the militant wing of the PPP.

Benazir has disassociated herself from al-Zulfikar, which was blamed for the 1981 hijacking of a Pakistani jet to Kabul. Murtaza thinks he should be forgiven. 'Whatever I did then I did because the people of Pakistan were being held hostage,' he said. 'I felt it was my duty to fight against the military government.' Murtaza plans to contest a seat in a Karachi district where he would go head-to-head with the incumbent - Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir's husband.

WHAT'S a wedding without the traditional 'something old, something new'? In the case of Tom Hayden and Barbara Williams, 'something old' was old-growth forests, which they pledged to preserve in the vows they exchanged on Saturday. Mr Hayden is a California state senator best known as a member of the radical Chicago Seven and as the second husband of Jane Fonda. Ms Williams is an actress whose film credits include Thief of Hearts and City of Hope.

The two were married on an isolated beach near Tofino, the site of ongoing protests over logging on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. 'Marriage is similar to old-growth forest - you have to be especially loving and vigilant to help it survive and grow,' Ms Williams said. Her father is a retired Vancouver Island logger, but she and other family members support preservation. The bride's sister and nephew were among those arrested in Monday's protests.

IS Ibrahim Babangida sprucing up his French villa in anticipation of living in it permanently? Oui, according to the French Communist Party newspaper L'Humanite. The paper reports that Nigeria's embattled military ruler is having his Villa St Georges, in the mountain town of Grasse, above Cannes, fitted with two swimming pools and a tennis court.

The unconfirmed report came on the eve of a nationwide protest against the military's refusal to surrender power to Moshood Abiola. If General Babangida does move to France, he would join such beloved exiled leaders as Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former Haitian dictator, who lives in nearby Vallauris, and former General Michel Aoun, the Lebanese Christian militia leader.

WHEN Pope John Paul makes his 11-hour trip home to Rome from Denver on Sunday, he'll be able to sleep in a custom-made bed fitted with Belgian linen sheets in the first-class compartment of a chartered American Airlines Boeing 767.

The approximately 100 other passengers will include 39 in the papal party who will be seated in the first-and business-class sections. The rest, mostly Italian journalists, will sit in the economy cabin. Movie selections in first class will include A Few Good Men, Strictly Ballroom and A League of Their Own, starring that Vatican favourite, Madonna.

(Photograph omitted)