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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 03:42 GMT 04:42 UK
Anwar Ibrahim's long legal fight
Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, pictured in August 2000 during his sodomy trial
Anwar attacked the judges for bowing to political pressure
The failure by Anwar Ibrahim to have his 1999 conviction for abuse of power overturned is a further blow to a once powerful figure.

The Federal Court which considered and rejected his appeal is across the road from the square where, in September 1998, he led the largest anti-government rally ever seen in Kuala Lumpur.

Nearly four years after his controversial sacking and jailing, much has changed in Malaysian politics.

Anwar's legal battle
Sep 98 - Sacked and arrested
Nov 98 Put on trial for abuse of power
April 99 - Found guilty, jailed for six years
June 99 - Sodomy trial opens
July 00 - Found guilty, sentenced to further nine years

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has ruled Malaysia for 21 years, has finally announced he will stand down in 2003.

Mr Anwar, picked as Dr Mahathir's likely successor before the two men fell out, will instead see the top job pass to his replacement, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The reformasi (or reform) movement Mr Anwar inspired has dissipated, with several of its leaders detained without trial under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly promoting insurrections against the state.

The once-dynamic alliance of opposition parties known as the Barisan Alternatif (BA) is in disarray.

The party forged in the heat of the reformasi movement, Keadilan, or the National Justice Party, is still led by Mr Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail. But senior defections have severely dented its impact and morale.

The momentum for political reform has also been unexpectedly reset by last year's 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

Dr Mahathir has enjoyed a resurgence since the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US, adroitly exploiting Malaysian fears of a militant Islamic opposition and the global economic uncertainty.

'Conspiracy'

The prime minister has partly won back a burgeoning middle-class that once flirted with the BA.

Prime Minister Mahathir
Dr Mahathir's popularity has recovered
Dr Mahathir has also moved quickly against what he alleges is a broader militant Islamic conspiracy against his government.

The police had already detained without trial scores of opposition and Muslim activists before 11 September, accusing them of plotting the violent overthrow of the government.

Since the beginning of the American-led campaign against terrorism, the police have rounded up more Muslims, allegedly part of a shadowy militant group trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Against this background, Mr Anwar and his plight have slipped from the domestic and international spotlight.

While the United States says it continues to view Mr Anwar's jailing as politically motivated, the pressure on Dr Mahathir's government has eased over the issue, partly because of security co-operation between the two governments.

The jailing was not mentioned when Dr Mahathir's visited Washington in May for talks with US President George W Bush.

And Mr Anwar's ordeal is far from over. As well as six years for abuse of power, he also faces nine years imprisonment for sodomy.

His appeal against that conviction has barely started.

See also:

25 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
25 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
08 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
30 Aug 99 | Asia-Pacific
09 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
07 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
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