Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim claims takeover bid has begun

(The Earth Times) Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Monday told a crowd of more than 20,000 that his promises of toppling the government would very soon be a reality, claiming that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has already been given evidence of the impending takeover. Anwar was speaking to the throng of demonstrators who had gathered at a stadium in the central Selangor state to call for the abolishment of a draconian security law.

The crowds erupted into thunderous applause when Anwar, 61, said that his three-party opposition alliance had secured a sufficient number of parliamentary crossovers to give them a majority to form the new government.

However, Anwar said the opposition wanted a "peaceful transition" of power and would hope to work closely with embattled premier Abdullah on the handing over of the government.

September 16 would mark a "clear and concrete movement" towards a change in the government, Anwar said, but declined to elaborate further, while a party official would only say Anwar would make "some major announcements" on Tuesday.

The charismatic leader led the opposition to major gains in the country's March 8 general elections, denying the ruling coalition of a two-thirds majority in parliament and taking control of five states.

The opposition, which currently holds 82 out of the 222 parliamentary seats, claims that at least 30 government lawmakers have agreed to defect.

Monday's rally was originally held to protest the detention of an opposition lawmaker and a popular blogger under a security law which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
Police on Friday detained opposition politician Teresa Kok and anti-government blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA), a law drafted almost 60 years ago under British colonial rule to fight a communist insurgency.

Despite the heavy evening downpour, protestors began gathering at the stadium hours before the rally was scheduled to begin.

The rally, which obtained a police permit, kicked off with prayers, marking the breaking of a day-long fast for Muslim during the holy month of Ramadan.

Under Malaysian law, any public gathering of more than five people must obtain a police permit, or be deemed an illegal gathering. Opposition gatherings and rallies have rarely, if ever, managed to get police approval.

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