|1996 Elections in Bosnia After several years of fighting and the deaths of tens of thousands, leaders of the battling forces met on November 1 at the Wright-Patterson Airforce Base, outside Dayton, Ohio, to negotiate a peace settlement. The Dayton Accords were initialed twenty days later, thus effectively bringing about a conditional end to armed hostilities. The accords were reinforced with 15,000 American ground troops, whose introduction assured that the ceasefire was observed by all sides. In an effort to construct a stable political system in the troubled region, elections were held on September 12, 1996; 60-70% of eligible voters cast votes, resulting in a three-headed presidency representing all the major ethnic groups.|
|1996 Taliban Capture Afghanistan At the end of September, the Taliban captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The Taliban originated from a group of students studying at a fundamentalist Islamic school. In a period of two years, the insurgents took control of two-thirds of Afghanistan. Their advance was nearly unopposed. Many welcomed the Taliban, as they brought the first stabilty to Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion of 1979. However, the Taliban instituted strict Islamic law in all areas that they controlled, and were ruthless to their opponents. Seen in this picture is the public hanging of the former President of Afghanistan, Najibullah, and his brother, who had been living in the UN compound in Kabul. The Taliban faced substantial opposition in the northern provinces, where opponents to the Taliban united in October to fight them.|
|1996 Nigeria Unrest Moshood Abiola, a multi-millionaire businessman, was widely believed to have won the presidential election in Nigeria in June of 1993. General Ibrahim Babangida, who had ruled Nigeria for eight years, annulled the election results, which were unfavorable to his regime, before they could be released. On the one-year anniversary of the election, Mr. Abiola declared himself President. Two years later, his wife, Kudirat, and her driver were assassinated in Lagos. Shortly afterwards, Abiola was arrested and held on charges of treason.
The arrest further contributed to the government's reputation as an oppressive violator of human rights, a reputation which was earned both by the 1993 election scandal and the 1995 execution of nine Ogoni activists, including Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa's organization, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, accused the Royal Dutch Shell Group -Nigerian government alliance of taking few, if any precautions to protect the local people from the harmful and sometimes fatal side-effects of pumping oil from the Ogoniland, the most oil-rich section of Nigeria. After years of government harassment, Saro-Wiwa and the eight other activists were arrested for the murder of four pro-government Ogoni tribal chiefs. The nine men were executed in November of 1995, after a mockery of a trial.
|1996 Suicide Bombers Hit Israel A series of suicide bombings struck both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, seriously affecting the peace process. The bombings helped defeat Shimon Peres, Rabin's succesor, and brought to power Benjamin Netanayahu.|
|1996 TWA Flight 800 Explodes TWA Flight 800 exploded off the coast of Long Island, shortly after taking off from JFK Airport in New York, bound for Paris. Initially, foul play was suspected, but eventually it was determined that the crash was most likely due to mechanical problems.|
|1997 Britain Turns Over Hong Kong to China The long rule of Britain over Hong Kong came to an end on July 1, 1997. On that day, the sovereignty of the colony was turned over to China. China had agreed to maintain greater freedom in Hong Kong than was allowed in China itself.|
|1997 Mars Pathfinder Lands The US spacecraft Pathfinder landed on Mars. It began transmitting stunning images from the surface of the planet. Pathfinder released a robot vehicle to explore the surface.|