Aug 11, 2008

Tun Mahathir denies speculation he will run against Anwar

Tun Mahathir said he had resigned from politics in 2003 and "I'm not coming back". He said he doubted that any independent candidate would win in the Aug 26 by-election, and such a candidate would only succeed in splitting the votes for Umno or Parti Keadilan Rakyat. "At the moment I do not see anyone who can give Anwar a run for his money," Tun Mahathir said after delivering a talk at a forum entitled "Challenges Faced by the Malays".

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has denied speculation he will run against his arch-foe, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, in a by-election expected to return Anwar to parliament.

Anwar was Mahathir's deputy and heir apparent until 1998 when he was sacked and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges widely seen as retribution for challenging his one-time mentor.

Mahathir, who has also had a serious falling out with his successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said the ruling party has no one who can beat Anwar in the August 26 by-election.

"At the moment I do not see anyone who can give Anwar a run for his money," Mahathir said, according to the New Straits Times newspaper.

But Mahatir said he would not challenge Anwar for the seat vacated by Anwar's wife after he was charged with sodomy once again last week.

"No way, I have resigned in 2003 and I have said that I'm not coming back," he said, according to the state Bernama news agency.

Despite the new allegations that he sodomised a young male aide - a serious offence in Malaysia that carries a penalty of 20 years imprisonment -Anwar has said he is still on track to seize power.

Landmark general elections in March handed the opposition an unprecedented one-third of parliamentary seats, and Anwar would need just 30 lawmakers from the ranks of the ruling coalition to switch sides.

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