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Malaysians Protest Leadership, Oil

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Malaysians Protest Leadership, Oil

July 7, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim told a rally here that he will keep pressing to oust the National Front coalition that has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957.

Mr. Anwar told a crowd of 20,000 Sunday night that said he was on the verge of winning that majority in parliament by wooing defectors from the ruling coalition when an aide suddenly accused him of sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Mr. Anwar has denied the allegation.

Thousands of people, defying police orders to shun the rally, had gathered at a soccer stadium outside Kuala Lumpur. A police helicopter hovered above the stadium. Police had declared the event an illegal gathering but are allowing it to proceed as long as it is confined to the stadium grounds, officials said.

The rally had a convivial atmosphere with most people wearing red T-shirts, the colour of the protest movement. The crowd, who chanted “Bring Down Oil Prices,” also asked Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down

The prime minister’s government raised gasoline prices 41% last month, adding to its unpopularity after March elections in which the opposition won power in five of Malaysia’s states and came within 30 seats of taking over the 222-member national parliament.

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