Battle lines drawn over Anwar Ibrahim’s return

Financial Times, UK
By John Burton in Penang

Published: August 25 2008 17:50 | Last updated: August 25 2008 17:50

If all goes according to plan Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, will on Tuesday easily win a by-election in his old constituency and return to parliament after a 10-year absence.

The former deputy prime minister then wants to mount within three weeks a parliamentary coup against the National Front coalition government that has ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain half a century ago. He hopes to persuade at least 40 government legislators to cross the aisle to support a vote of no confidence.

But the strategy has been dogged by allegations of sodomy that, if proved, could strip Mr Anwar of the seat, and emerging signs of dissension within the ranks of the three-party opposition alliance he led to near-victory in general elections in March.

According to opinion polls the allegations are seen by many Malaysians as a desperate, last-ditch government attempt to derail Mr Anwar’s return to power. He says the charge is a fabrication, although his accuser, a 23-year-old aide, recently took the dramatic step of taking a sworn oath on the Koran that the allegation was true. [more]

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