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Malaysia's Anwar Calls for Emergency Parliamentary Session

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has called for a special session of parliament to hold a vote of no confidence against the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told a news conference Thursday he has sent a letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi asking that an emergency session of parliament be held no later than September 23.

Parliament is currently in recess until October 18.

Anwar says he expects an immediate answer from Mr. Abdullah and any delay "would be interpreted as nothing short of sabotage."

Anwar says he has secured enough defectors from the ruling coalition to topple the government.

"We have received firm commitment from members of parliament in excess of the number required to form a new government. And our government will reflect the diverse make-up of Malaysia society," he said.

Mr. Abdullah has refused to meet with Anwar and denies the opposition leader has convinced enough lawmakers to switch sides.

Anwar has set the date for the emergency parliament session one day before he is due in court to answer charges he sodomized his male aide, a crime in Malaysia punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

Anwar denies the sodomy charge and says it is politically motivated to keep him from bringing down the government.

Anwar has promised if he takes power to implement economic reforms, end corruption, and promote racial equality between the country's majority Malays and the minority ethnic Indian and Chinese Malaysians.

"We believe we can save Malaysia from economic ruin and the dangerous politics of racism. We can do so prudently, legally, and in doing so we will not jeopardize the security and stability of the country and the safety of its people," he said.

Mr. Abdullah's government has been facing mounting pressure since the March general elections saw the ruling Barisan Nacional coalition loose its two-thirds majority in parliament, the first time it lost its majority since independence more than 50 years ago.

Mr. Abdullah is also facing dissent from his own party members who want him to hand over power to his deputy, Najib Razak, before the 2010 deadline he had set for

On Wednesday Mr. Abdullah said he may step down before the 2010 deadline and handed the finance ministry to his deputy, Najib, setting in motion the eventual transfer of power.