Colombia's President Wins Right to Run Again

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's Constitutional Court approved a law Friday that will allow President Alvaro Uribe, a close U.S. ally, to run for a second four-year term in May elections, the court's president, Manuel Jose Cepeda, said.

Uribe has a 70 percent approval rating, attributed largely to his tough policies against Marxist rebels fighting a four-decade-old war, and early opinion polls show him far ahead of other contenders in next year's vote.

The court's judges voted 7 to 2 that the Electoral Guarantees Law, passed by Congress last year to set out the rules for a sitting president to compete in an election, was constitutional, Cepeda said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* BEIRUT -- U.N. investigators questioned Lebanese President Emile Lahoud as part of their inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. A U.N. report, which implicated senior Syrian and Lebanese officials in the February killing, said one suspect had contacted Lahoud, an ally of Syria, shortly before the bombing. Lahoud has denied the allegation.

* RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was remembered on the anniversary of his death, with Mahmoud Abbas, his successor as president of the Palestinian Authority, laying the cornerstone for an elaborate shrine in the yard of Arafat's former headquarters.

* KUWAIT CITY -- A flamingo found on a Kuwaiti beach had the strain of bird flu that has devastated poultry stocks and killed more than 60 people in Asia -- the first known case of bird flu in the Arab world. Mohammed Mihana of Kuwait's Public Authority for Agriculture and Fisheries said tests showed the flamingo had the H5N1 flu strain.

ASIA

* TAPA SHAIDAN, Afghanistan -- A Pakistani-owned plane carrying cargo for the U.S.-led military coalition crashed into a mountain near the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing all eight of its crew members, most of whom were Russian, officials said. Western military officials said the cause was unknown.

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A police raid on a house used by the purported leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, an al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asian terrorist network, turned up a bomb-making and recruitment video, police said.

Authorities were closing in on Noordin Mohamad Top, a Malaysian fugitive who narrowly escaped capture Wednesday in the raid in Central Java province, said Gen. Sutanto, the national police chief. Security forces were going door to door in central Indonesia. Azahari bin Husin, identified as Top's right-hand man, was killed in the raid.

-- From News Services