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Malaysian Opposition Leader Vows Government Takeover

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he is still on track to take power, despite being formally charged with sodomy.

Anwar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur Friday that he is close to convincing enough lawmakers in the ruling National Front coalition to defect to his three-party opposition coalition by mid-September.

The National Front has a 30-seat parliamentary majority after losing its two-thirds majority control in March elections.

The former deputy prime minister pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he had sexual relations with a former male aide in June. The judge granted him bail, allowing him to campaign in an August 26 by-election for his old parliamentary seat in northern Penang state.

He faces a 20-year prison sentence if convicted.

Anwar is urging prosecutors to drop the charges, saying he has already "gone through hell" when similar charges were brought against him a decade ago.

He was forced out of the government in 1998 amid accusations of sodomy and corruption. He spent six years in jail, but was released in 2004 after a court threw out the sodomy charge. Anwar has accused Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of personally orchestrating the case to destroy his political career.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.