Monday, February 25, 2008

Anwar's wife to help him return to office in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24, 2008 (AFP) - The wife of Malaysian political dissident Anwar Ibrahim said Sunday she will give up her parliamentary seat to make way for her husband's return to public office, state media reported.

The opposition Keadilan party president, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will defend her parliamentary seat in Permatang Pauh in northern Penang state in the upcoming March 8 polls.

Anwar was sacked and jailed for corruption in 1998 and cannot stand for office until April this year, but he could return to parliament by running for any Keadilan-held seat in a by-election after the ban expires.

"If I win, I will make way for my husband to contest for this seat in a by-election after the ban under the law, which bars him from contesting until this April, ends," she was quoted as saying by Bernama.

Wan Azizah has held the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in Anwar's homestate of Penang since 1999. Anwar has said he aims to return to parliament by contesting a by-election in a Keadilan-held seat after April.

Wan Azizah is Keadilan's only lawmaker in parliament, after the party, which had previously held five seats, suffered a setback in 2004 polls.

Keadilan will contest about 100 of the 222 parliamentary seats, its strongest effort so far as it aims to deprive the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government coalition of its two-thirds majority.

Anwar's eldest daughter, 27-year-old Nurul Izzah Anwar, will contest the elections for the first time, going for the seat representing the urban Lembah Pantai constituency in central Selangor state.

Anwar was a highly regarded finance minister and deputy premier before being sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998. He was jailed on corruption and sodomy charges, which he said were politically motivated.

The sex charge was overturned but the corruption conviction still stands, and Anwar has accused the government of timing the March polls in order to stall his return to politics.

ELECTION 2008: Najib hits out at Anwar's post-election bid to become MP - The general election is for the people to determine the course of the country’s future and not a stage for individuals to promote their political careers, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.
He was referring to the contests for Permatang Pauh and Lembah Pantai, whose opposition candidates have declared their willingness to step down in favour of Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim if they win.
The seats are being contested by Anwar’s wife, PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, and their daughter, Nurul Izzah, respectively.
“These elections are not about any individual,” Najib said today after inspecting the Barisan Nasional election machinery here, where he is contesting to retain the seat.
“We must instead see these elections as an opportunity where every voter is given the right, according to the Constitution, to choose which party should set up the government, “ he said. “This should be the main consideration of the voters, particularly those in Lembah Pantai and Permatang Pauh. It should not have anything to do with any personality.”

Feb 26, 2008:
ELECTION 2008: Anwar still determined to make a comeback: One way or another, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is determined to make a political comeback. Alleging he has been denied the right to contest in this general election, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor announced yesterday he would make a grand return to the parliament via a by-election.
Anwar is serving a ban from holding political office due to his jail sentence after he was convicted on corruption charges. The ban ends on April 14.
PKR president Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail was recently reported as saying she would gladly vacate her Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat, if she wins again for the third time, to make way for her husband.
At the launch of PKR’s manifesto at his office here, Anwar said that besides his wife, others who agreed to step down for him were his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar and the party’s information chief Tian Chua.
Nurul Izzah and Tian Chua are facing an uphill task against incumbent Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and newcomer Lim Si Pin, respectively for the Lembah Pantai and Batu parliamentary seats.
Denying accusation of nepotism, Anwar said his wife and daughter were not contesting for his sake. “They are contesting for the party on the party’s platform and my eventual ascension into politics via a by-election is something that has been agreed upon by party leaders,” he said.

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