Monday, June 30, 2008

Anwar drama heads for standoff with govt

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is holed up in the Turkish embassy here, setting the stage for a standoff with the government. By seeking refuge in a foreign mission, the de facto Opposition leader is also preparing to internationalise the alleged sodomy case being built up against him in Malaysia.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Azmin Ali did not disclose to The Malaysian Insider whether Anwar was seeking political asylum abroad but his supporters said that they believe that his life is in danger and that he could be on the hit of those who do not want him to come to power.

"He has been there since 6am," said Azmin.

His choice of the Turkish Embassy for protection is not surprising. Since his release from jail after the Federal Court overturned his conviction for sodomy in 2004, Anwar has struck a close relationship with Turkish Premier Reccep Erdogan.

The Opposition politician leaned heavily on strategists from Erdogan's AKP in planning Pakatan Rakyat's successful election campaign. This assistance was frowned upon by the government and since then, government officials have been suspicious of Erdogan's motives and of Anwar's link with the AKP.

Meanwhile, there was surprise and puzzled looks in Putrajaya as government ministers burnt the telephone lines trying to find out if the police report by Anwar's aide against him for alleged sodomy was part of a political campaign to discredit the former deputy prime minister.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi denied that the aide, Saiful Bukhari, was a pawn in the government plot to kill off its formidable political opponent.

"The government has no intention of wanting to make life difficult for him or to harass him," Abdullah said.

Police confirmed that a sodomy complaint had been lodged but said Anwar would not be arrested "at the moment". The Malaysian Insider understands that Saiful alleged that the incident took place at a condominium off Jalan Setia Kasih in Damansara on June 26.

Datuk Param Cumarasamy, the former UN special rapporteur on the independence of lawyers and judges, says the government's handling of the incident will be carefully scrutinised, both by the Malaysian public and by the international community. - The Malaysian Insider

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