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Saturday, Sept 12
Malaysia's Anwar heads to village, PM's state
By Reme Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Malaysia's sacked finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, defying threats of arrest, left his home on Saturday in a convoy of cars to address supporters in his village and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's home state.

Anwar climbed into a silver Honda Odyssey van and pulled away from his suburban home outside the capital at 12.40 p.m. (0440 GMT), heading for his home state of Penang in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

About 300 supporters shouted ''Allahu Akbar'' (God is Greatest), ''Long Live Anwar'' and ''Reformasi'' (Reform) as Anwar drove away, witnesses said.

Two policemen on motorcycles directed traffic but made no attempt to intervene.

It was the third time Anwar had ventured out of his neighbourhood since being dismissed as deputy prime minister and finance minister on September 2.

On Friday, he addressed agitated supporters at a mosque in central Kuala Lumpur and then visited a Moslem religious leader in the evening as Malaysia's leaders, including Mahathir and King Tuanku Ja'afar Abdul Rahman, attended the opening ceremony of the 16th Commonwealth Games.

Anwar, who has vowed to launch a nationwide tour to press for political reform, was unable to address a crowd of about 20,000 supporters on Friday night.

Harun Din, a Moslem leader who advises many political and business leaders, said authorities had asked him to prevent any speeches at his residence, 17 km (10 miles) south of the capital and near the stadium where the games pageantry took place before 100,000 spectators and an international television audience of millions.

Police are investigating Anwar over allegations of sexual misconduct, treason and other crimes which he denies.

The former cabinet minister says he was the victim of a political conspiracy by opponents who saw him as a threat to Mahathir's 17-year rule and opposed his economic policies.

Police have said they are close to completing the investigation but they have not interfered with Anwar's movements.

Since he moved into his private home from the deputy prime minister's official residence on September 3, Anwar has addressed large crowds each evening.

Police permits are normally required for political gatherings of more than three people but Anwar has been allowed to speak without obtaining authorisation because he has delivered his speeches, laced with criticism of the government, at his home.

Police did not intervene when Anwar addressed a crowd outside the mosque in the capital on Friday, drawing some critical comment in the local press.

''It is customary for mosque committees to disallow people from making speeches in mosques unless otherwise authorised,'' the New Straits Times said on Saturday.

It was not clear whether police would intervene on Saturday evening when Anwar planned to address supporters in his village of Cherok To'Kun in the state of Penang, about 500 km (300 miles) from Kuala Lumpur.

After visiting his village, Anwar planned to go to Alor Star, capital of Mahathir's home state of Kedah and about 80 km (50 miles) from his village, to deliver a second speech. On Sunday, he planned to drive to Malacca, south of Kuala Lumpur, for a rally.

Anwar, who has said he might be arrested under the Internal Security Act which permits imprisonment without charges, has said he is seeking an opportunity to state his case in court.

His sacking exposed tensions within Mahathir's governing majority over economic policy and political reform.

Mahathir has said Anwar was morally unfit to serve in government and that he would be indicted when the police finish their investigation.

Anwar's trips coincided with the start of the Commonwealth Games, which run until September 21 and involve more than 4,000 athletes from 70 countries.