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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 09:01 GMT

Profile: Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's fallen heir

Dramatic fall from grace for Awar

By BBC Asia Analyst, Angie Knox

Five years after becoming deputy prime minister - and first in line to succeed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad - Anwar Ibrahim found himself out of a job and facing a police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The charges brought against him led to a highly-charged trial lasting several months which culminated in a verdict finding him guilty of corruption.

Anwar Ibrahim: "This is part of a larger political conspiracy"
A day after his sacking, Mr Anwar claimed he was the victim of a high-level conspiracy.

Mr Anwar had been seen as a likely successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, but there had been growing tensions between the two leaders, particularly over economic policy.

Mr Anwar himself says there has been a conspiracy within the government to unseat him and he certainly has his enemies.

Anwar Ibrahim: "I believe in a civil society"
The allegations against him of sexual impropriety surfaced in a book called "Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister", which was circulated during the annual meeting of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno) party in June.

During that meeting, Dr Mahathir strengthened his control of the party, despite a public attack on cronyism and nepotism by one of Mr Anwar's allies.

Price of ambition

Analysts saw the attack as an indirect bid by Mr Anwar to consolidate his own position. If so, it failed. Mr Anwar may have paid the price for his ambition.

Abroad, he has been seen as the rational face of the Malaysian leadership as it grappled with the country's worst economic crisis.

Anwar Ibrahim: "I demand justice"
The 51 year-old politician had counselled economic caution and sought to reassure foreign investors - in contrast to the prime minister's attacks on foreign speculators.

Dr Mahathir may not have been too pleased to see his deputy featured on the covers of international news magazines and hailed as Malaysia's saviour.

Allies sidelined

In the weeks after the Umno meeting, Anwar's allies found themselves sidelined.

Two newspaper editors resigned, top officials of the central bank stepped down, and Anwar found his responsibilities for economic recovery assigned to Daim Zainuddin, a close associate of the prime minister.

It was just a matter of time before Anwar himself had to go.

After 16 years in power, the 72-year-old prime minister shows no signs of giving up. He has said he'll stay on to see the economic crisis through.

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