Progress toward peace in the Mideast was the top news story of 1994 in voting by United Press International subscribers and staff, who also named South African President Nelson Mandela as Newsmaker of the Year.

During 1994, limited Palestinian autonomy began in the Gaza Strip and West Bank under agreements reached between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel also signed a peace treaty with Jordan, ending an official state of war that had existed for 46 years. Jordan became the second Arab state to sign a peace agreement with Israel, following Egypt in 1979.For their efforts, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize.

UPI voters last year named the reaching of the accord between Israel and the PLO as the top news story of 1993.

The UPI poll, which included responses from 50 subscribers and staff members, said the continuing war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the No. 2 story of 1994.

Four years after the Yugoslav federation disintegrated in violence, the first European war in nearly half a century continued despite international efforts to stop the fighting.

Voters chose as the No. 3 story the first fully democratic elections in South African history, which ended white majority rule, and Nelson Mandela's election as president.

UPI voters also named Mandela as 1994's Newsmaker of the Year. The 76-year-old black leader, who spent 27 years in prison under apartheid, now is working with a multiparty government on a five-year plan to rectify apartheid's legacy of racial inequality.

The Republican takeover of the U.S. Congress for the first time since 1954 was No. 4 on the list of top 10 stories. The Nov. 8 elections gave the GOP its first Senate majority in eight years and first House majority in 40 years. It also gave Republicans their first majority of state governorships since 1970 in balloting that loudly signaled a turn to the conservative right.

Rwanda's civil war that left at least half a million people dead in ethnic fighting between the country's Hutu majority and Tutsi minority was chosen No. 5. The fighting forced 2 million people to flee to Zaire, and thousands died of disease in refugee camps.

The arrest and trial in Los Angeles of former football great O.J. Simpson on two charges of first-degree murder - one of the most-watched and most-publicized cases in American history - was named the year's No. 6 story. Simpson was charged with the knife slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

World trade - including implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the signing of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - was chosen No. 7.

For No. 8, voters picked the United Nations and its struggles in worldwide peacekeeping and humanitarian aid, particularly its lack of success in stopping the bloodshed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's return to power with U.S. help was chosen No. 9. The three leaders of the military junta that overthrew the democratically elected Aristide in 1991 agreed to surrender power when faced with an imminent U.S. invasion. Aristide resumed the presidency to face the massive job of rebuilding the impoverished Caribbean country's economy.

UPI voters chose the peace process in Northern Ireland as the year's No. 10 story. The Irish Republican Army declared a cease-fire in September and Protestant paramilitaries joined them in October, with both sides beginning talk of peace for the first time in 25 years.