Sep 23, 2008

Malaysian government denies opposition's claim of handover talks

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition said it has begun negotiations with the ruling coalition over a transition of power, after it claimed to have signed up enough defectors to topple the government. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to meet with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim but officials said contacts are being made through intermediaries.

"There is initial contact between our middleperson and Abdullah's middleperson," said Tian Chua, information chief of Anwar's PKR.

"Our intention in holding them is for a transition of power to the opposition but I cannot speak for the other side," he told AFP.

"So far it looks good and we will wait to see what happens."

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's opposition said Tuesday it has begun negotiations with the ruling coalition over a transition of power, after it claimed to have signed up enough defectors to topple the government.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim but officials said contacts are being made through intermediaries.

"There is initial contact between our middleperson and Abdullah's middleperson," said Tian Chia, information chief of Anwar's Keadilan party.

"Our intention in holding them is for a transition of power to the opposition but I cannot speak for the other side," he told AFP. "So far it looks good and we will wait to see what happens."

Tian Chua said contact was made initially on the weekend and that more than one meeting had taken place.

The government has so far denied the claim.

Anwar said earlier this month that he had the support of more than 31 lawmakers from the ruling coalition but refused to release the list of names until Abdullah agreed to a meeting.

The premier dismissed his claims as bluff and has shown no sign of stepping down even as he faces another challenge from cabinet ministers who have called on him to quit before his scheduled departure in 2010.

Abdullah has been fighting for his political life since a March general election handed the opposition unprecedented gains and plunged the coalition into disarray.

Ruling party insiders say he is now under intense pressure to quit by the end of the year.


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