April 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 News Month-By-Month


  • Old Enemy of Mobutu Elected in Zaire (April 1): Parliament, in move to mollify rebels, names Etienne Tshisekedi, opponent of President, as Prime Minister.
  • I.R.A. Threat Halts Big Race in Britain (April 5): But no bomb is found at Liverpool racetrack, where Grand National Steeplechase was scheduled. Police order 60,000 evacuated, including Princess Anne.
  • Zairian Troops Mutiny and Join Rebels (April 7): Government suffers setback as soldiers in second-largest city surrender to advancing foe. Thousands in capital hail commander of liberation forces.
  • India's Coalition Government Defeated (April 11): Loses parliamentary vote of confidence. General election possible as three parties contend for power.
  • Pope Visits Sarajevo (April 12): John Paul II arrives with message of reconciliation. Earlier police reported 23 land mines had been removed from motorcade route from airport and cathedral. (April 13): Pontiff celebrates mass within sight of graveyard full of Bosnian war victims.
  • Fire Kills 300 Pilgrims Outside Mecca (April 15): Sweeps through Saudi Arabia encampment where 2 million Muslims had met for one of Islam's holiest rituals.
  • Albanians Greet First Peace Force Troops (April 15): Vanguard of 6,000 soldiers from eight European countries under Italian command arrives a month after Balkan nation disintegrated into near-anarchy.
  • Netanyahu Avoids Charges in Scandal Inquiry (April 16): New political crisis erupts in Israel as police say Prime Minister may have traded support from coalition ally in return for plea bargain. (April 20): Prosecutors drop charges against Prime Minister because of insufficient evidence.
  • Prime Minister Named in India (April 19): Coalition government ends three-week crisis by choosing Inder K. Gujral. As two-time Foreign Minister, he won praise for improving India's relations with neighbors.
  • Thousands of Rwandan Refugees Trapped in Zaire (April 30): U.N. begins airlift to return to Rwanda victims of conflict as thousands more terrified refugees gather in camp near jungle town, uncertain of their fate. Many fear reprisals from Tutsi-led Government in Rwanda.


  • Court Upholds California's Preference Ban (April 8): U.S. Appeals bench affirms constitutionality. Rules voters had right to forbid use of racial and gender-based preferences in affirmative action programs.
  • C.I.A. Suggests Error on Iraqi Arms (April 9): Report indicates that intelligence errors may have led to demolition of ammunition bunker filled with chemical weapons that may have exposed thousands of U.S. troops to deadly nerve gas after Persian Gulf war.
  • Court Voids Line-Item Veto Law (April 10): Federal judge strikes down as unconstitutional new statute giving President power to cancel individual appropriations and tax benefits in legislation.
  • Court Upholds California Marijuana Law (April 11): U.S. judge in Los Angeles rules Clinton Administration cannot move to punish doctors who recommend drug for patients under new state statute.
  • Clinton Partner Gets Three-Year Sentence (April 14): U.S. judge imposes prison term on James B. McDougal, charged with illegally obtaining millions in federally backed loans. Whitewater inquiry is rejuvenated.
  • Reno Refuses Special Prosecutor (April 14): Attorney General rejects Republican demands, saying Justice Department career prosecutors are capable of handling investigation into financing of President Clinton's re-election campaign.
  • Loan from Dole to Pay Gingrich Fine (April 17): House Speaker announces he will borrow $300,000 as payment for penalty in ethics inquiry. Former Senator Bob Dole calls loan “investment” in G.O.P.'s future.
  • Whitewater Grand Jury's Life Extended (April 22): Federal judge in Arkansas grants request of special prosecutor after he reports discovery of evidence of obstruction of justice and needs more time.
  • Christian Coalition Leader Resigns (April 23): Ralph Reed quits as executive director to start consulting concern to elect Christian-oriented candidates around country. Reed built Coalition into one of the most powerful forces in Republican politics.
  • Senate Approves Chemical Weapons Treaty (April 24): Votes 74–26, for international convention to prohibit production, storage, and use of poison gas. Republican Leader Trent Lott rallied support.
  • Court Backs F.D.A. on Tobacco Oversight (April 25): U.S. judge in North Carolina rules agency can regulate tobacco as a drug. But he decides it lacks authority to control advertising aimed at youths.
  • Vigorous Economy Aids U.S. Budget (April 30): Has grown at fastest pace in nine years in first quarter. Administration predicts surge will help reduce deficit to $75 billion, lowest in 20 years.
  • Labor Secretary Confirmed after Impasse (April 30): Senate, 85–13, approves Alexis Herman after months of delay over her role in campaign fund-raising.


  • Presbyterians Vote Homosexual Curb (April 1): Majority of regional bodies enact into law its policy against ordaining practicing homosexuals.
  • Russian Space Station Repaired (April 9): Fuel, fire extinguishers, and spare parts reach Mir space station so American and two Russians can cure overheating in primary system to purge carbon dioxide.
  • Black-Asian Golfer Sets Masters Record (April 13): Tiger Woods, 21, wins at Augusta, Ga., by a tournament-record 12 strokes. Score is 18-under-par.
  • Jackie Robinson Honored on Anniversary (April 15): Some 50,000 crowd New York's Shea Stadium to honor man who 50 years previously broke color barrier in major league baseball as first black player. His mother and daughter join President Clinton in tributes.
  • Top Tobacco Companies Seek Accord (April 16): Two largest concerns, R.J.R. Nabisco and Philip Morris, move to settle legal and political difficulties in talks on major concessions, including more than $250 billion to compensate states and individuals.
  • Woman, 63, Gives Birth to Baby Girl (April 23): Doctors believe she is oldest woman ever to bear a child.
  • Trial Begins in Oklahoma City Bombing (April 24): Timothy J. McVeigh faces federal court in Denver for charges of committing terrorist act that killed 168.
  • Missing A-10 Pilot Believed Dead (April 25): Air Force reports recovery of human remains at site in Colorado Rockies where wreckage of crashed Thunderbolt had been discovered. Flier, Capt. Craig Button, disappeared after veering away from training flight.
  • Thousands Flee North Dakota Flood (April 27): Waters of Red River recede after inundating area nearly a quarter the size of Lake Superior. Ninety percent of Grand Forks under water. Many of city's 50,000 residents face crushing damage to property.
  • Texas Militants Free Two Hostages (April 28): Officials give up jailed member of separatist group in exchange for releasing pair. Police face armed standoff.
  • Ex-Drill Sergeant Convicted in Rapes (April 29): Army jury at Aberdeen, Md., finds Staff Sgt. Delmar G. Simpson guilty of attacks on six women.

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