A coup too far for Guatemala's former leader

PEOPLE

Unless he stages another coup, Efrain Rios Montt won't be ruling Guatemala again, even indirectly. Election officials have rejected the presidential candidacy of his wife, Maria Teresa Sosa de Rios, who was proposed by the Guatemalan Republican Front after Mr Rios Montt was again refused the opportunity to run for president. He took power in a 1982 coup and ruled during one of the bloodiest years in Guatemala's history. Mr Rios Montt wants to lead the country again, but has been thwarted by the constitution: it prohibits people who have participated in coups from holding the office. Ms Sosa de Rios was barred because relatives of former presidents are not allowed to run for the top job, and because she was not elected by the party's general assembly. On Monday the Supreme Court stripped Mr Rios Montt of his congressional immunity and suspended him for voting to replace the officials who invalidated his candidacy.

Carlos the Jackal has been in jail in France for a year now, awaiting trial on terrorism charges. He reportedly spends his days reading, writing, lifting weights and exasperating his guards. Now he has to concentrate on finding a new lawyer, after sacking the flamboyant Jacques Verges. Mr Verges told Reuters he had not seen his client, Illich Ramirez Sanchez, for six months. "I made the decision not to go there any longer. We do not share views on defence strategy and the counsel's role," he said. Carlos is not expected to face trial for months, and is now in solitary confinement in the Fresnes prison outside Paris. The prison warders say keeping him under close surveillance is a heavy burden at the overcrowded jail, and complain that he gets special privileges, such as extra showers. One of his female lawyers was once accused of sitting on his lap in jail, and a guard said he was once given a beer. Still, it's a far cry from the days of whisky and women he enjoyed before his capture in Sudan last August.

Lawyers for Nelson Mandela and his estranged wife, Winnie, have begun to discuss divorce. Ismail Ayob, the South African President's lawyer, told Reuters that the talks were under way, but that legal steps were not likely to be taken soon. "The matter is being dealt with sensitively and is being discussed between lawyers,'' Mr Ayob said. Legal sources said an amicable divorce would be straightforward where there was no prospect of reconciliation. Mr Mandela, 77, and Winnie, 60, were married in 1958. They separated formally in April 1992, two years after he was released after 27 years in prison for opposing white rule. She was sacked from his cabinet in April.

Rocky or Rambo in banker's pinstripes may be a difficult sight to conjure up. Sylvester Stallone, the Hollywood heavyweight, has bought a 7.1 per cent stake in Yardville National Bancorp, a New Jersey holding company. The announcement came as Stallone signed a reported $60m (pounds 37.5m) three- film deal with Universal Pictures, the largest ever between an actor and studio. Stallone, however, isn't the first member of his family to make money in Trenton, New Jersey. His handsome younger brother Frank, who played a street singer in Rambo, used to perform with a rock group called Valentine -- and sell kisses for $1 for charity.

MARYANN BIRD

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