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Date: 18 Nov 1999
Malaysian opposition seeks to nominate Anwar in upcoming election
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (AFP) - Malaysia's opposition alliance will try to nominate jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim as a candidate in the November 29 election, his wife says.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad meanwhile announced that at least 30 percent of candidates for his National Front would be new faces, as part of his bid to win another crushing majority.
Anwar's wife wan Azizah Wan Ismail told AFP in an interview late Wednesday the opposition Alternative Front would seek to nominate Anwar.
"He will stand as a candidate in KL (Kuala Lumpur)," she said, adding the constituency had already been decided. She declined to identify it, saying "they can do many things to prevent him from standing for election."
Wan Azizah, head of the National Justice Party, said she herself would contest the Permatang Pauh constituency in Penang state -- which her husband held for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), dominant partner in the National Front.
Mahathir sacked Anwar as deputy premier and finance minister in September 1998. He was later that month expelled from UMNO and detained.
Anwar was jailed in April for six years for abuse of official powers and is now on trial for sodomy. Supporters say 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 nomination papers Saturday.
Anwar is the candidate for premier of the alliance, which includes the National Justice Party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
Mahathir's aim in the parliamentary and state assembly polls is to retain his coalition's two-thirds parliamentary majority and win back the PAS-held northern state of Kelantan. But the Anwar issue has split the ethnic Malay community.
Mahathir admitted Thursday the coalition faces problems in three states in the northern ethnic Malay heartland but said it would still win there.
"We are not denying that we are facing problems in the three states (Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis)," he told local editors.
"We faced the same problems in the previous elections but the results were different from what had been predicted by analysts."
An aide to a senior UMNO minister told AFP Mahathir will embark on a nationwide tour after nomination day to drum up support, including Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Penang states.
The aide also said Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, who has expressed a desire to retire, would stand again in the election.
But the New Straits Times Thursday said three-long serving ministers had decided not to stand. It named them as Lim Ah Lek, human resources minister; Amar Sulaiman Daud, agriculture minister; and Abang Abu Bakar, defence minister.
The premier, for the third time in five days, predicted the opposition alliance would try to stir up election trouble.
"We anticipate attempts by the opposition to disrupt the smooth conduct of the election, especially a few days before polling, on realising they have a slim chance to win," he said.
Wan Azizah said earlier Mahathir was raising the prospect of riots to scare the ethnic Chinese electorate into voting "for continuing supposed stability."
Lim Kit Siang, whose DAP Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the election to protest at the "unconstitutional" exclusion of 680,000 new voters, said Thursday he had heard nothing on when it would be heard.
The voters registered in April or May. But the election commission says it will not be able to check and process the names and include them on the electoral roll until next January.
Even if the suit were heard after the elections, Lim said, a court has the power to declare the results null and void.
"I hope the hearing can be held before nomination day (Saturday). I hope the court will meet urgently to address a matter which can brook no delay."