September 17, 1999

Former Costa Rican president ready to run again -- if he can

                  SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- Former President Oscar Arias, who won a
                  Nobel Peace Prize for helping bring peace to the region, says he would
                  consider running again for Costa Rica's presidency if the constitution is
                  amended to permit it.

                  "Various friends have approached me and have proposed the idea. I am going
                  to consider it," Arias said in an interview broadcast Thursday night by local
                  television Channel 7.

                  A constitutional amendment in 1969 barred reelection to the four-year
                  presidential terms.

                  Some politicians have proposed modifying the constitution to allow former
                  presidents to seek the office again after eight years out of power, though the
                  proposal faces an uphill battle in the single-house legislature.

                  "It is not fair that a voter cannot vote for his favorite only because of the sin of
                  having been elected president," Arias said. "I know I would have the support
                  of Costa Ricans."

                  Arias won the Nobel Prize in 1987 for efforts to end Central America's
                  guerrilla conflicts and at age 59 he remains popular here.

                  A recent poll showed he was favored over all other prominent candidates for
                  the 2002 election.

                  Since leaving office in 1990, Arias has run a private foundation.