Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Malaysian government denies opposition's claim of handover talks

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Malaysian government denies opposition's claim of handover talks

Posted: 23 September 2008 1228 hrs

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday said that the opposition’s claims of holding handover talks with the government were not true.

"That is the craziest report I have ever heard," Abdullah told reporters. "There are no such meetings whatsoever with Anwar's people.”

Malaysia's opposition had said earlier Tuesday it has begun talks over a transition of power from the ruling coalition, after it claimed to have signed up enough defectors to topple the government.

Tian Chia, information chief of Anwar's Keadilan party, said there had been several meetings since the weekend between "our middleperson and Abdullah's middleperson".

"Our intention in holding them is for a transition of power to the opposition but I cannot speak for the other side," he told AFP. "So far it looks good and we will wait to see what happens."

Anwar said earlier this month that he had the support of more than 31 lawmakers from the ruling coalition but refused to release the list of names until Abdullah agreed to a meeting.

The premier has dismissed his claims as bluff and has shown no sign of stepping down even as he faces another challenge from cabinet ministers who have called on him to quit before his scheduled departure in 2010.

Abdullah has been fighting for his political life since a March general election handed the opposition unprecedented gains and plunged the coalition into disarray.

Ruling party insiders say he is now under intense pressure to quit by the end of the year.

- AFP/yb

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