Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 12:48 UK

Anwar announces by-election plan

By Robin Brant
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to reporters at his People's Justice Party headquarters in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur, on Tuesday
Mr Anwar has been the de facto opposition leader for months

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is to contest a by-election for a seat in parliament, the final step of his return to front-line politics.

His wife, who is also an MP, is vacating her seat in Penang, in the northwest of the country.

Mr Anwar was banned from standing for public office until earlier this year.

He is currently facing claims that he sodomised a former male aide - allegations which he strenuously denies.

Sodomy is an offence punishable with a jail term in mainly Muslim Malaysia.


This is the final instalment in Anwar Ibrahim's bid to return to the top.

He led the new opposition coalition to a stunning showing in Malaysia's general election earlier this year - but could not stand himself as he was banned following a conviction for corruption and sodomy in 1999.

Now the ban has expired and he has chosen the place to try to complete his comeback.

The election will be within 60 days and he is almost certain to win. The area has been his political base for decades.

But it is not certain he will make it to election day. Mr Anwar is facing renewed allegations of sodomy, made by a 23-year-old former aide. He could be re-arrested and face charges any time.

He says the allegations are fabricated, describing them as a re-run of attempts to discredit him a decade ago.

Many others believe they are politically motivated and linked to his resurgence.

A return to parliament would give Anwar Ibrahim the personal mandate and political legitimacy that he craves.

But his detractors are desperate to deny him a seat in parliament.

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