Anwar: We have numbers to topple gov’t
|Apr 15, 08 12:12am|
|Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim last night said he has the support of enough defectors from the ruling coalition to seize power, although he will not act until he has a bigger majority.
“Yes, we have enough MPs to topple the government,” he told reporters after a rally to celebrate the end of his ban from politics, which was broken up by police.
“We are saying here for the first time that we are ready (to rule the country),” he said. “But we will only enter when the majority is comfortable.
“When we take over we want to initiate the move. Do we want to be a government with a two- or five-seat majority?”
The Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance claimed more than a third of parliamentary seats and five states from the Barisan Nasional coalition in stunning March general elections.
Anwar has said that government lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawakhave approached him about switching sides, but so far none have declared their intentions publicly.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is floundering amid mounting calls to resign and take responsibility for the election results, which were the worst in the coalition’s half-century history.
“The situation in Malaysia is uncertain at the moment, people don’t know when the prime minister is going and who will succeed him, so we will respond to this,” Anwar said.
He said that rather than seizing government, the opposition’s priorities are to consolidate its gains and work with Sabah and Sarawak lawmakers “who agree with our new Malaysian agenda.”
“The priority now is to administer the Pakatan Rakyat states as incorruptible and financially transparent, fulfil our promises to the people and give meaning and essence to participatory democracy.”
Earlier, his speech to some 20,000 supporters was halted by police who shut down the rally celebrating the end of his political ban, a decade after he was sacked as deputy premier and hit with sex and corruption allegations.
“The police chief has asked us to stop so we are stopping, but remain peaceful because soon we will be running this country,” Anwar told the crowd.
Witnesses said there were some scuffles between police and supporters as the crowd dispersed.
Political gatherings are strictly controlled in Malaysia, and police had threatened to break up the event, held at a private club in central Kuala Lumpur, because they said it was illegal.
About 300 officers including riot police, backed up with water cannon trucks, formed a heavy security presence, but the event went ahead on schedule and Anwar spoke for an hour before the authorities intervened.
Once seen as the heir apparent to long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar spent six years in jail before storming back to prominence in the March elections.
The sex conviction against him was later dropped but the corruption count prevented him from standing for public office until Tuesday.
Anwar had been expected to re-enter parliament quickly through a by-election in one of the seats held by his Keadilan party, and to challenge Prime Minister Abdullah in a symbolic no-confidence vote soon after.
But in light of the stunning and unexpected gains, he has said he is in no hurry to act and will instead focus on building up the opposition.
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