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July 7, 2008

Malaysia opposition holds anti-inflation rally
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told some 20,000 supporters at an anti-inflation rally on Sunday that the government should quit over a recent fuel price hike.

The crowd chanted "PM resign" as Anwar criticised Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for last month's 41 percent increase in the cost of petrol which has deepened his unpopularity after disastrous March general elections.

Anwar, who is fighting new accusations of sodomy - the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago - has said he is poised to seize power with the help of defecting lawmakers from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

"The people are desperate but the government is happy," he told the rally. "If oil prices cannot be reduced, the BN government should step down."

The marathon protest was held at a stadium in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur despite a police ban and amid deepening political turmoil with Anwar and deputy premier Najib Razak trading serious allegations against each other.

"I vow we will fight and struggle until the Pakatan Rakyat becomes the next government of Malaysia," Anwar said, referring to his three-party opposition alliance.

Despite the fears of a crackdown, security was light and the only ruckus came when the lead singer of a rock band performing on stage exposed his backside in a political gesture -- enraging the conservative crowd.

The fuel price hike has heaped pressure on Abdullah after the March polls which handed the opposition its best ever result - a third of parliamentary seats and control of five states.

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