Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim says approached to run for UN top job

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will step down at the end of the year when his second five-year term expires, and has said most nations believe his successor should come from Asia.

Asian countries have intensified campaigning in recent weeks, and top contenders include Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Sri Lanka’s Jayantha Dhanapala, a presidential adviser, and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon.

Ramping up the heat, India also made a bid this month, putting forward Shashi Tharoor, an undersecretary at the United Nations.

Other candidates include Timor’s Foreign Minister and Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta and Latvian President Vike Frieberga, while outside chances include Myanmar’s detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is being touted by pro-democracy activists.

Anwar, 58, was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 by then-premier Mahathir Mohamad and jailed after convictions for sodomy and corruption.

He was released in September 2004 when his sodomy conviction was overturned, spending a year afterwards as an academic in the US and Britain, and on the international lecture circuit.

He returned to full-time political life in Malaysia in May, building up the opposition party Keadilan and retaining a position as visiting professor with Georgetown University in the US.