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Sunday, Sept 13
Up to 50,000 flock to Anwar rally in northern Malaysia

POKOK SENA, Malaysia, Sept 12 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Malaysians flocked to see ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim here late Saturday after his unprecedented verbal assault on Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Cars were backed up some seven kilometres (five miles) along the jungle road leading to Pokok Sena in a massive show of support for Anwar, who faces possible arrest under a wave of police allegations ranging from sexual impropriety to bribery and jeopardising national security.

Witnesses estimated the crowd at between 40,000 and 50,000 people, by far the biggest show of support since Anwar was summarily dismissed by Mahathir on September 2 as deputy premier and finance minister.

A local policeman said Anwar's supporters had applied for a permit to hold a public gathering -- otherwise illegal in Malaysia -- and that permission had been granted for the ex-minister to speak for one hour.

Anwar arrived earlier Saturday in his home town of Bukit Mertajam, northern Malaysia, where he addressed a crowd of about 10,000 supporters.

Referring to Mahathir, he said: ''You have power, you monopolise everything. You give things to your children and you make the people poor.

''What is he scared of? How can he be a leader if he is such a coward,'' he asked the crowd of cheering supporters. ''The world is big enough for everyone's needs but not enough for everyone's greed.''

Mahathir has failed to give a full explanation for the dismissal of his former protoge, merely saying that he was ''unsuitable'' to hold office and that his decision to fire Anwar was based on ''moral'' grounds.

''Those who say this should first look at their own reflection in the mirror,'' Anwar said during his speech in Bukit Mertajam. ''The more he criticises me, the more people people come to listen to me.''

Anwar has rejected all charges against him and says the allegations are part of a high-level conspiracy.