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Wednesday, Sept 23
Malaysia bans "reformasi" protests in crackdown
By Brian Williams

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 (Reuters) - "Reformasi" protests against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad were banned throughout Malaysia on Wednesday and police said they planned to bring arrested protest leader Anwar Ibrahim to trial within a week.

A crackdown on Mahathir opponents, including arrests of dozens of Anwar supporters and a war of nerves to keep his wife silent, had mainly restored calm to the Southeast Asian nation by Wednesday.

The security clampdown was ordered after thousands took part in anti-government protests on Sunday and Monday which were the most serious challenge in Mahathir's 17-year-old rule.

They were led by his former deputy and finance minister Anwar who was sacked on September 2 because Mahathir said he was morally unfit to be in the government.

Anwar was arrested on Sunday night and Mahathir has bitterly attacked the former student activist's personal life, denouncing him as a sodomist and frequenter of prostitutes.

Federal police chief Abdul Rahim Noor gave the clampdown orders on Tuesday night during a speech to thousands of officers who had just finished a massive security operation to protect the first Commonwealth Games in Asia.

He said there would have been actions earlier against the protesters if police had not been tied up in security for the Games and the visit of Queen Elizabeth who was to leave for home later on Wednesday.

"Before, we could afford to close an eye and even allow them (protesters) to hold meetings without a permit because we were busy with our foreign visitors and the Commonwealth Games," Abdul Rahim said.

"Now we cannot afford to do so anymore," he declared.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Mahathir said Anwar tried to set off an Indonesian-style uprising to bring him down, including talking about burning down his home.

Deputy Home Minister Tajol Rosli Ghazali said Anwar, who has not been heard from or seen in public since his arrest under the draconian Internal Security Act, would go on trial "within a week."

He did not say if it would be an open trial which the media

and public could attend.

"The charges are all related to sex scandals and not for other reasons," the minister told reporters.

Tajol Rosli warned police would not hesitate to arrest Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, if she tried to stir up trouble or took over her husband's role as protest leader.

"We will not hesitate to take action even against her," he said.

On Tuesday riot police ordered Anwar's supporters to leave streets around his suburban home, where thousands had congregated before his arrest.

On Sunday and Monday, police had arrested 134 protesters and rounded up 12 more under the Internal Security Act, which permits indefinite detention without trial.