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Page last updated at 08:24 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 09:24 UK

Anwar 'on track to win power'

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim being sworn into parliament, 28 August, 2008
Mr Anwar says he will oust the prime minister through MP "defections"

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has said his plans to topple the National Front ruling coalition by next week remain "on track".

He made the comments as he emerged from a courtroom where prosecutors that argued his trial on sodomy charges should be moved to the High Court.

Mr Anwar's lawyers described such a move as an unnecessary delaying tactic.

The court said it would hear formal arguments for and against the move on 24 September.

Meanwhile Malaysia's governing coalition has taken action to try to end a racial row which is threatening to engulf the government.

Ahmad Ismail, a senior politician from the majority United Malays National Organisation, has been expelled and stripped of his job after he referred to the minority Chinese as "squatters".

'On track'

Mr Anwar promised he had enough support to depose the government by 16 September, despite the charges against him.

In the meantime, however, about 50 members of the government have been sent on a farming study tour to Taiwan - a move derided by Mr Anwar's supporters as a tactic intended to thwart his plans.

But Mr Anwar remained defiant, saying he would fly to Taiwan if necessary, to garner legislators' support.

"There are technical problems because [the lawmakers] have been shipped away... God willing, it will [still] happen. If need be, I will fly to Taipei," he told reporters.

He leads a three-party opposition alliance, which made huge gains at the ballot box in March. The National Front won just 140 seats in the 222-member parliament, losing its two-thirds majority for the first time.

Mr Anwar has said he needs to persuade 30 government lawmakers to his side to bring down the government and that he had tacit agreements from enough members of parliament to do so.

Court moves

The court hearing on Wednesday appeared to help his plans, reporters said, by leaving Mr Anwar on bail for at least another two weeks.

Government prosecutors argued that the case alleging sodomy by Mr Anwar should be moved to the High Court because it had attracted such a high degree of public interest.

The application to move the case was led by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who Mr Anwar is already suing with regard to his earlier - and overturned - conviction for sodomy.

Mr Anwar's supporters expressed fears that moving the case to the High Court could make the case more vulnerable to manipulation by the government.

The Sessions Court decided to delay a decision, until 24 September, allowing both sides to prepare formal arguments by then.

Security was tight outside the courtroom on Wednesday, with riot police prepared for large protests if Mr Anwar had been imprisoned.



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