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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 March 2007, 12:29 GMT
Malaysia's Anwar plans comeback
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Anwar Ibrahim (file image from February 2007)
Mr Anwar says he wants to gauge his party's mood

Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has announced that he is ready to return to active politics in defiance of a legal ban.

Mr Anwar says if his People's Justice Party backs him, he will run for its presidency in June despite being barred from political office until April 2008.

Mr Anwar served six years in prison for corruption and sodomy.

But he was released in September 2004 after the courts overturned the latter charge on appeal.

However his corruption conviction stands and that disbars Mr Anwar from holding office in any political party until next year.

High-risk strategy

There is a growing expectation that the government will call an election before the end of this year, so the former deputy prime minister is gauging the mood of the opposition People's Justice Party, currently led by his wife, Wan Azizah.

He says he is prepared to run for its presidency in defiance of the legal ban and the government, which he accused of using the courts to deny him his rights.

It is a high risk strategy from the man who led Malaysia's Reformasi Movement after falling out with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in 1998.

Malaysia's opposition remains divided and has performed poorly in recent by-elections.

By returning to the fray, Mr Anwar could find himself embroiled in legal problems and he will also be putting his popularity to the test.

Malaysia has yet to find out whether Anwar Ibrahim on the campaign trail has the same allure as he did when he was behind bars.

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