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Tuesday, Sept 22
Malaysia Cops, Protesters Clash
by LAURINDA KEYS (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Ignoring a visit by the British queen, thousands of supporters of Malaysia's ousted deputy premier clashed Monday with police trying to end two weeks of protest - the biggest outpouring of dissent during Mahathir Mohamad's 17-year rule.

After calling on army reservists and riot police to quell the unrest that reflected a pitched battle for power in this Muslim nation, Prime Minister Mahathir joined Queen Elizabeth II at the finale of the Commonwealth Games. The arrest of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim added a volatile element to Malaysia's political and economic troubles.

With police helicopters buzzing overhead, more than 1,000 officers chased mobs of protesters down side streets and blocked roads in an effort to contain angry demonstrators.

Several thousand more demonstrators took to the streets in other parts of the capital, where they were chased by riot police. Reporters saw police detaining at least a dozen protesters.

Anwar, tossed out of the government earlier this month, was expected to face charges of sexual misconduct and disturbing the public order. He has vehemently denied the charges, saying they were cooked up by Mahathir.

As with many other Asian nations, Malaysia is struggling with a worsening economy. But those frustrations haven't mounted to the levels in Indonesia, where people rioted spontaneously during protests that led to the downfall of President Suharto in May.

But Anwar has been leading an increasingly vocal opposition to the 72-year-old prime minister since Sept. 2, when Mahathir fired the man he once had designated his successor.

Expecting to be arrested any moment, Anwar gave fiery speeches and incited crowds to shout ``Mahathir out!'' and ``Long live Anwar.'' Such attacks on the dignity and authority of the prime minister were unheard of.

The sight of 35,000 people, punching the air with their fists, waving banners and shouting ``Reform!'' at a downtown square on Sunday may have been the last straw.

Two hours later, a masked team of special agents broke down Anwar's front door. Federal police said Anwar was placed under indefinite detention as a security risk.

A human rights group, Suaram, said 34 had been arrested on the streets Monday. Anwar and five allies were detained under the Internal Security Act, a law that allows indefinite imprisonment without charges or trial for those deemed a threat to national security.

The unrest threatened to overshadow the visit by the queen and her festive closing of the Commonwealth Games, which feature athletes from countries that once belonged to the British Empire.

By Monday night, Mahathir had declared that the Games were such a success he would make Sept. 28 a national holiday. He stood in the center of the National Stadium absorbing several minutes of applause, then greeted Queen Elizabeth, as well as Malaysia's queen and king, at the dance, song, and fireworks-filled closing ceremonies.

Thousands of supporters, who had chanted ``Reform, reform'' outside the courthouse where they had expected Anwar to be arraigned, were dispersed by riot police.

Anwar's wife, Azizah Ismail, designated the leader of the reform movement before her husband's arrest, waited futilely for his arraignment.

``If Dr. Mahathir thinks that by ordering the police to act like gangsters he will frighten the people from supporting this reformation movement, he is dreaming. I think he has cut himself off from reality,'' she told reporters. Anwar has been accused of sodomy. Newspaper reports said Anwar's adopted brother and a friend allegedly confessed in a court hearing Saturday that they committed sodomy with him.

Anwar has charged that defendants had been tortured into confessing. Mahathir denied the allegation.

Sodomy is a crime in this conservative Muslim country, and both men were sentenced to six months in prison.