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Saturday, Sept 12
Anwar leaves for home town in north Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 (AFP) - Ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim left here Saturday for his home town in northern Malaysia, venturing out of the capital for the first time since his dismissal 10 days earlier.

Anwar, who had twice postponed plans to visit his old stomping ground in the northern state of Penang, was accompanied by a convey of dozens of vehicles as he left his suburban home in Kuala Lumpur.

Except for brief visits to mosques for Friday prayers, Anwar has been holed up in his house since September 3, a day after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dismissed his as deputy premier and finance minister.

Since then, he has been holding nightly speeches to thousands of supporters, calling for political reforms and denouncing Mahathir's government for corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

Although he has yet to be charged, Anwar is accused of sexual impropriety, bribery, jeopardising national security, interfering with police investigations, tampering with evidence, abuse of power and sedition. Anwar says the allegations are part of a high-level conspiracy.

Mahathir has failed to explain why he has dismissed his former protege, merely saying that he is ''unsuitable'' to hold office and that his decision to fire Anwar was based on ''moral'' grounds.

Tens of thousands of supporters turned up to see Anwar speak near a university campus on Friday night. But the gathering was cancelled at the last minute with organisers saying they did not have a police permit.

Deputy Home Minister Tajol Rosli Ghazali said Friday it was up to police to decide whether nightly meetings at Anwar's home were illegal and that he would have to apply for a permit if he wanted to hold gatherings.

''Under the law, a gathering of more than four people, except within a hall, needs a police permit,'' he reportedly said.

In an address at a downtown mosque on Friday, a defiant Anwar vowed to keep fighting the police allegations against him.

''Even if they want to use the courts against me, even if they want to use the police against me, I will never surrender. I will continue to fight,'' he said.

Anwar also denounced unidentified people in high places whom he accuses of conspiring to bring him down, later saying that he had appealed to authorities to act ''honourably'' if they arrest him.

''My lawyers have written to the attorney general to clarify media reports dated September 10 saying that any any attempt to arrest me will create unrest by my unruly supporters,'' he said.

''I wish to reiterate that we will continue to cooperate but we detest, despise and protest the gross injustice and gross abuse of the instruments of government,'' the former finance minister said.

Malaysia's ruling party has ordered the country's mosques and universities to ignore Anwar, who was removed from his cabinet posts on Sepetmber 2 and kicked out of the party a day later.