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Sunday, September 20, 1998 Published at 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar arrested amid Kuala Lumpur protests

Malaysian police fired tear gas to disperse Anwar's supporters

Anwar Ibrahim: "Mahathir is using the police to provoke"
Malaysian police have arrested the former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim after a raid on his home in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Around a dozen armed policemen stopped a press conference being held by Mr Anwar and ordered television cameras to leave.

Nicholas Witchell reports on events in the capital during the Queen's visit
Reports say as many as 500 police officers, wearing helmets and armed with assault rifles, surrounded Mr Anwar's house, blocked nearby roads and kept back angry supporters.

The events coincided with the first day of a state visit to Malaysia by Queen Elizabeth.

Tear gas

[ image: Mr Anwar's rallies across the country have attracted thousands of supporters]
Mr Anwar's rallies across the country have attracted thousands of supporters
In another area of Kuala Lumpur riot police fired tear gas and water cannons against supporters of Mr Anwar as they marched towards the prime minister's official residence.

"There will be further arrests, especially the movement leaders," Kuala Lumpur police chief Kamaruddin Ali said outside police headquarters.

Supporters cheer as Mr Anwar arrives at the rally in Kuala Lumpur
Earlier on Sunday, thousands of people gathered at the capital's main mosque, where Mr Anwar delivered a scathing attack on his political adversaries.

Mr Anwar declared that he was the people's ruler and called for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad - the man who dismissed him from the government earlier this month.

[ image: Police say they have restored order after
Police say they have restored order after "rioting and some vandalism"
Dr Mahathir said Mr Anwar was "morally unfit" for the post of leader and said demands for his resignation as prime minister were "illegal".

Mr Anwar's supporters then marched on the city's Merdeka Square close to the cathedral where the Queen, newly arrived in Kuala Lumpur, had earlier attended a church service.

Dr Mahathir: "I wish he hadn't done this and he would have succeeded me and everything would be fine"
The Queen had left the scene before the main body of the protest march surged through police lines.

Buckingham Palace said it was keeping the situation under close observation but the Queen is still due to close the Commonwealth Games on Monday.

Smear campaign

Mr Anwar has taken his anti-corruption campaign across the country, and has accused the prime minister of conducting a "Gestapo-style" smear campaign against him.

[ image: Reformasi (reform) has become a slogan for Mr Anwar's supporters]
Reformasi (reform) has become a slogan for Mr Anwar's supporters
Mr Anwar's lawyer, Christopher Fernando, says he expects him to appear in court on Monday on charges of sexual indecency.

On Saturday, Anwar's adopted brother and his former speechwriter were jailed for six months after pleading guilty to being sodomised by him. Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia.

Since his dismissal, Mr Anwar has been under investigation for sexual misconduct, treason and corruption.

He has denied the allegations and said he is the victim of a high level conspiracy by political opponents.

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