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Thursday, September 3, 1998 Published at 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Conspiracy claim by ousted Anwar

Anwar Ibrahim has been beseiged by the press

The sacked Malysian Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, says he is the victim of a conspiracy at the highest level and has vowed to fight any charges brought against him.

Anwar, who was also the country's finance minister before his sudden dismissal on Wednesday, said he was committed to fighting corruption in Malaysian politics.

The Malaysian news agency, Bernama, says affidavits have been filed against Anwar in the High Court, accusing him of sexual misconduct and posing a threat to national security.

His sacking follows strong disagreements with Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamed over the handling of Malaysia's economic troubles.


The BBC's Simon Ingram: "Mr Anwar's arrest appears imminent"
Political tension rose on Thursday as supporters surrounded Anwar Ibrahim's home and armed police moved into the area.

As new moves were expected against Anwar, he asked the hundreds of supporters outside his home to remain calm.

His sacking came hours after the prime minister imposed exchange controls on the ringgit in an attempt to deal with the country's continued currency crisis.

Anwar, who has been locked in a power struggle with the prime minister, opposed the policy which overturned his free market principles.


[ image: Free Market: Anwar supports reforms]
Free Market: Anwar supports reforms
The ruling Umno party is due to meet amid indications that Anwar will be removed from his post as deputy party president and then face charges relating to his private and business life.

He has already begun a defamation action against an author who alleged sexual misconduct.


Simon Ingram: "Anwar was the acceptable face for western markets"
Police Inspector-General Abdul Rahim Noor denied that Anwar was effectively under house arrest.

But he added that the armed officers had been brought in to prevent the removal of government documents.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said: "The sacking of Anwar is likely to precipitate a political crisis which would aggravate the worst economic crisis in the nation's history."

Economic disagreements

The ringgit has plummeted since the Asian economic crisis began last year and is currently worth only 40% of its US dollar price of mid-1997.


[ image: Currency crash: Ringgit has tumbled]
Currency crash: Ringgit has tumbled
Malaysia's economy, which grew by 8% a year for a decade, is in recession after shrinking 6.8% over the last year.

The 51-year-old ousted deputy, for years seen as the next prime minister, has spent months on the sidelines after deep divisions with Mahathir over the course for economic recovery.

Anwar and the central bank favoured high interest rates and austerity measures to protect the currency.

But the prime minister and his chief economic aide, Daim Zainuddin, have pushed for greater government spending and lower rates to boost the economy.

The new policy means that the ringgit is now pegged at 3.8 to the US dollar and foreign trading in the currency has been banned.



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