Malaysia's Anwar starts by-election drive

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he would put a cap on prices of 2.70 ringgit a litre and cut prices in line with falling crude oil prices.

Malaysia's Anwar starts by-election drive

Malaysia's leading opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim pledged to launch his campaign for a parliamentary seat at the weekend after the government announced plans to limit petrol price rises, a key electoral concern.

Anwar, who may be charged with raping a male aide, will start campaigning for his wife's constituency in Permatang Pauh, a semi-rural enclave in northern Penang state, his People's Justice Party spokesman Tian Chua said on Friday.

"We will mobilise all our support to show unity among all the (opposition) coalition members," he said. "It's quite an important, decisive battle," Chua said.

Anwar will contest the seat on a pledge to stabilise the economy - which has been buffeted by rising inflation - and improve racial unity.

The ex-deputy premier is battling allegations he sodomised a former aide, an accusation which he has dismissed as a political ploy to derail the opposition's rise after it deprived the government of a two-thirds majority in elections in March.

Police have completed investigations and a security official told Reuters the authorities would soon press charges.

Badawi pledge on petrol prices

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced plans to implement a new petrol price formula from Sept. 1 and said he would put a cap on prices of 2.70 ringgit a litre and cut prices in line with falling crude oil prices.

Abdullah's popularity has slumped to just 42 percent, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research published on Friday, from 53 percent in March, before hefty petrol subsidies were cut.

The cut in subsidies won plaudits from economists as it reduced the strain on government finances. But the inflation rate hit a 27-year high of 7.7 percent in June and was likely to stay above 7 percent in July due to the impact of the cut.

The opposition criticised the petrol price announcement as electioneering.

"The government should not be announcing goodies for the people or making assurances that fuel prices will not go above 2.70 ringgit just because there is a by-election," said opposition politician Lim Guan Eng, who is chief minister of nothern Penang state.

Anwar was barred from running for public office until this April because of a conviction for corruption. He was sacked by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 and jailed on what he says were fabricated charges of corruption and sodomy.

The Merdeka poll, which covered over 1,000 adults, showed that only 11 percent believed the allegations while 66 percent agreed with the statement that it was a politically motivated action to disrupt Anwar's political career.

Reuters

Last Mod: 02 Ağustos 2008, 13:35
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