12/17/2010, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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Kuala Lumpur: Government suspends opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

by Jeremy Lim
The former deputy premier accuses the government of having ties with Israel. Along with him, three other members of Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition, have been suspended. This move brings the Barison Nasional, the ruling party, to regain a majority of two thirds, lost for the first time in 40 years with the 2008 elections.

 Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, along with three members of his camp, were suspended yesterday for six months, allowing the Barison Nasional coalition to reach a majority of two thirds. Ibrahim accused the ruling party of having ties with Israel. The leader of the Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition, can however still participate in current parliamentary debates.

Earlier this year, Ibrahim said that the policy agenda 1Malaysia, planned by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2008, is connected to Israeli political alliance called One Israel. The opposition leader said the prime minister employed the Apco Worldwide, a public relations consultancy firm, to develop the slogan of 1Malaysia. He also accused the Apco of having links with Israel.

The parliament has also suspended the opposition MPs Azmin Ali, Karpal Singh and Sivarasa Rasih accused of leaking information while they were part of the inquiry committee into 1Malaysia.

The suspension paves the way for the Barisan Nasional to regain a two-thirds majority in parliament, gaining the support of independent candidates. This will allow the coalition to amend the Constitution and redraw the electoral boundaries.

The next general elections are scheduled for 2013, but the government wants to bring them forward to 2011. With the last vote in 2008, the Pakatan Rakyat deprived the Barisan Nasional of a two-thirds majority for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Anwar Ibrahim, 62, was deputy until 1998, when he had to leave his post following allegations of corruption and sodomy. Jailed at the time of the Asian financial crisis at the end of the millennium, he has spent six years in prison. In 2004 the Federal Court overturned the conviction for sodomy, and Ibrahim threw himself back into political life. Now he faces a new set of charges of sodomy, which the opposition claims conceal political motives.

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