Anwar case overshadows party meeting

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The Independent Online
MALAYSIA'S RULING political party, UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) will meet today for the first time since the former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, was expelled and charged with sodomy and corruption.

The national delegate meeting is supposed to be discussing rules for internal elections, but UMNO's falling popularity and a successor to Mr Anwar are sure to dominate.

The economic downturn has eroded party support, as has the treatment of the former deputy prime minister. Yesterday the Kuala Lumpur appeal court said it would decide on bail in the next two weeks.

The Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, 72 is said have recovered from illness. His refusal to pick a new deputy has led to much manoeuvring. The main contenders are believed to be the education minister, Najib Tun Razak, and the foreign minister, Ahmad Badawi.

Many disaffected ethnic Malay supporters have left UMNO to join the Islamic opposition party, PAS.

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