Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anwar seeks censure of Malaysian government

Anwar seeks censure of Malaysian government

Story Highlights

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim demands a special Malaysia Parliament session

He wants to hold a vote of no confidence in the government

He sent letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to demand the meeting

He says enough lawmakers of ruling coalition willing to defect to topple government

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia's opposition leader demanded Thursday an emergency Parliament session for a no confidence vote in the government, insisting he has secured enough defections from the ruling coalition to topple it.

Malaysia's PM has branded Anwar Ibrahim, pictured, as a liar and a threat to the country's economy and security.

Anwar Ibrahim said he sent a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, asking that the special session be held no later than Tuesday. Parliament is currently in recess until mid-October.

"Any delay in his response would be interpreted as nothing short of sabotage of democratic process and abuse of executive powers," he told reporters. "It is therefore critical for the prime minister to respond."

If Abdullah fails to call a session, Anwar said, his three-party coalition, the People's Alliance, will meet to figure out the next course of action. One of his options would be to approach the constitutional monarch and stake claim over the government after proving he has the required majority.

It was not clear if Anwar's call was another attempt at brinksmanship in the continuing political crisis that has gripped Malaysia since the March 8 general elections vastly eroded the ruling National Front coalition's traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Anwar's People's Alliance has 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament, compared to the Front's 138. Anwar says he has secured pledges of loyalty from more than 31 ruling party lawmakers ready to defect for a majority of at least 113.

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He says he can't reveal their names -- until they demonstrate their loyalty in Parliament -- to protect them from possible detention or other extra-judicial efforts by the government to prevent them from crossing over.

"We are not in an ordinary democratic environment," he said.

Abdullah has dismissed Anwar's claims as a "mirage," branding him a liar and a threat to the economy and security of the country.

Anwar said: "If he doesn't believe me then go to the Parliament."

Besides the threat from Anwar, Abdullah is also facing dissent from his own party members, who want him to hand over power to his deputy, Najib Razak, to take responsibility for the election losses.

On the streets, Abdullah's popularity is at an all-time low thanks to a moribund economy, huge inflation and increasing racial tensions between the country's majority Malays and the minority Chinese and Indians.

Abdullah said Wednesday he might leave office sooner than the June 2010 deadline he had set for himself. He also handed over his finance ministry portfolio to Najib, setting in motion the process of power transfer.
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