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Date: 18 Nov 1999
Anwar's wife to contest his old constituency in political debut
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (AFP) - The wife of Malaysia's jailed ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim says she will contest his former parliamentary seat in the November 29 general election on behalf of the opposition party she heads.
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told AFP she would stand in the Permatang Pauh constituency in Penang state which her husband held for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
In an interview Wednesday night she said her National Justice Party (Keadilan) would also nominate her husband as a candidate but declined to say in which constituency.
Anwar is the candidate for premier of an opposition alliance including the DAP, the National Justice Party and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
He had held the Permatang Pauh seat in the northern state of Penang since 1982. In September 1998, after a falling out with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, he was sacked as deputy premier and finance minister, expelled from the party and detained -- initially under an internal security law.
He was jailed in April for six years for abuse of official powers and is now on trial for sodomy.
Anwar's supporters have argued that since his appeal is pending against his corruption conviction, he has the right to contest the election even though he is in jail.
A candidate need not be present in person to file his nomination papers this Saturday.
Keadilan spokesman Raja Petra Kamaruddin had said earlier that the party had not decided whether to nominate Anwar since the Election Commission refused to say if he was qualified.
"They are just being evasive and not giving us a direct answer. They ask us to try our luck but we cannot do that," he said.
The commission has said it would leave it to the relevant registration officer to decide on nomination day if Anwar can stand.
"If Anwar's nomination is rejected, then the (ruling) National Front will win the seat uncontested. We can't just give them the seat free of charge without putting up a fight. That's our dilemma," Raja Petra said.