Malaysian Vows to Speak Out

After Losing Bid to Lift Political Ban

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia -- Dissident politician Anwar Ibrahim failed on Wednesday in a final court bid to erase his criminal record and free himself of a ban on holding political office, but he vowed not to be silenced.

Malaysia's highest court, which two weeks ago quashed a sodomy conviction against the former deputy prime minister and freed him from almost six years in prison, denied a request to rehear his appeal against his last remaining conviction, for corruption.

The conviction means he cannot run for party office or Parliament until April 2008. Only a rare royal pardon could overturn the ban, but Anwar said he was undecided whether to ask for one.

"I'll continue with my agenda. It doesn't make a difference to me," he said by phone from a hospital in Munich, where he is recovering from surgery.

Anwar has already served his sentence on the corruption count, which landed him in jail in 1999 and sparked violent street protests. He was accused of abuse of power in trying to cover up the sodomy investigation.

Anwar said both convictions were trumped up by former leader Mahathir Mohamad to ruin his political career.

the americas

* BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia rejected a demand from Marxist rebels to pull troops from two southern towns as a condition for negotiating a prisoner exchange that would include three kidnapped U.S. military contractors.

A neutral area must be set to negotiate the swap, said a communique dated Sept. 14 from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The government, which has offered to free 50 guerrillas if the FARC releases 72 hostages, was quick to refuse the demand.


* PARIS -- The Eiffel Tower remained closed by an employee strike, disappointing tourists who had hoped to see Paris from atop its most famous monument.

Employees walked off the job Tuesday in support of a colleague who was issued a disciplinary warning for work-related problems, said a spokeswoman for the company that runs the tower.

At this time of year, the tower usually gets 15,000 visitors a day. It employs about 250 people.


* ABUJA, Nigeria -- Peace talks between Sudan's government and Darfur rebels faltered after one of the two rebel groups said the negotiations had collapsed. However, the group left open the chance that talks could resume.


* RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A British man was shot dead in a parking lot outside a Riyadh shopping center, a Saudi Interior Ministry official said. The spokesman gave no further details about the victim. The motive for the killing was not immediately known.

There has been a spate of attacks against foreigners in Saudi Arabia by militants bent on hurting the economy of the world's largest oil producer and supplier.

-- From News Services