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President flees as rebels advance

One of the most notorious officials of the KGB formally assumed power in Azerbaijan on Friday when he went on television to announce that the country's president had fled the capital to escape advancing rebels.

The new leader, Heydar Aliyev, said he could not forgive the president, Abulfez Elcibey, for abandoning his office in Azerbaijan's hour of need, and he reiterated his opinion that the Elcibey government was at fault in the current crisis for attempting to disarm military units that refused to obey the central command.

Elcibey, 55, a former university professor, was overwhelmed by the same force that originally brought him to power in elections a year ago: his country's long, bitter and unsuccessful war with neighboring Armenia over the mostly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A series of battlefield setbacks last year led to the fall of former President Ayez Mutalibov and the election of Elcibey and his nationalist Popular Front party. But new military defeats this year eroded Elcibey's popularity and spawned the rebel army revolt that drove him from the capital.

On Friday, the rebels were less than 50 miles from Baku.

The assumption of power by Aliev, 70, capped a remarkable political comeback. A former KGB official who rose to head Azerbaijan's Communist Party and sit on the Soviet Union's ruling Politburo during the reign of Leonid Brezhnev, Aliev was ignominiously dumped by Mikhail Gorbachev amid charges of corruption in 1987.

Only Tuesday he was elected chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament with the Elcibey's support.

Azerbaijan, an oil-rich country about the size of Maine, is on the Caspian Sea just north of Iran. Its population of 7-million is mostly Shiite Muslim.

Immigration curbs

passed in France

PARIS _ Parliament approved a bill Friday restricting the right of foreigners to enter and live in France. It is the latest in a series of moves by the new conservative government to curb immigration and crime.

The vote of 480-88 in the National Assembly reflected the four-fifths majority enjoyed by Prime Minister Edouard Balladur's center-right coalition. The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.

The law aims to curb illegal immigration by clamping down on abuse of political asylum, marriages of convenience and family reunification. Foreigners sometimes use such methods to obtain the right to stay in France.

U.N. authorizes

new Bosnia troops

UNITED NATIONS _ The Security Council gave final approval Friday to sending 7,600 peacekeepers to six Bosnian cities designated as "safe areas" for the country's besieged Muslims.

The United States will provide air power to protect the peace-keepers, who will be heavily armed and authorized to deter Serb attacks.

However, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali is having trouble getting countries to contribute the 7,600 troops and the needed equipment. Because of this, diplomats expect the new forces _ which will supplement the 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers already in Bosnia _ to be deployed gradually.

In Bosnia, fighting eased in Serb-dominated regions as a new cease-fire took effect. But Muslims and Croats continued to skirmish, and a Canadian died _ the 47th U.N. peacekeeper killed in ex-Yugoslavia.

Nigeria "in danger,'

rights activist says

ABUJA, Nigeria _ A human rights group Friday defied a government ban and announced the results of Nigeria's presidential elections, declaring billionaire publisher Moshood K. O. Abiola the winner by a landslide.

But that did little to break the tension in Africa's most populous nation, where the official results of Saturday's balloting were banned pending a lawsuit by supporters of the military regime that asserts the balloting was rigged.

Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has promised to turn over power Aug. 27. But many Nigerians doubt that the military _ which has run Nigeria for all but 10 of its 33 years of independence _ will step down after enjoying the fruits of government corruption and graft.

Soldiers and riot police were posted at some of the more volatile parts of the country as the clamor grew for Babangida to make good on his promise. "The nation is in danger," said lawyer Gani Fawehinmi, a prominent human rights activist. "It is abundantly clear that the military government is leading Nigeria into a political crisis of immeasurable, chaotic proportions."

U.S. urges Jordan

to be tough on Iraq

WASHINGTON _ President Clinton pressed Jordan's King Hussein on Friday to enforce trade sanctions against Iraq and be "very tough on them."

Their meeting came just two days after newly declassified documents showed that Jordan provided military help to Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf war.

Clinton made clear to Hussein that the sanctions are "incredibly important to the United States and we'll continue to press to see that sanctions are enforced," White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers said.

The White House discussions focused heavily on Middle East peace talks under way in Washington among Israel, its Arab neighbors and Palestinians.

"I believe some considerable ground has been covered," Hussein said. "We are still a long way from getting there, but there is no other alternative."