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Wednesday October 21, 8:09 PM

Anwar's wife says Mahathir wrath now directed towards her

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 (AFP) - The wife of ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday she was "appalled" by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's suggestion that she would be arrested following her brief appearance at a weekend rally.

"It would seem that Dr. M's wrath is now directed towards me whereas I am struggling to protect my husband's name and innocence, and at the same time trying to take care of our children in his absence," Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.

"I am appalled by the manner the prime minister chooses to continue the battle to frustrate any dissent in the country after orchestrating and using the instruments of government in an attempt to cripple any freedom and movement of my husband," she told a news conference at the family home.

"He has now chosen to directly confront me by implied threats that I will be arrested," she said.

During his visit to Tokyo Tuesday, Mahathir said that he felt "sorry" for Azizah and that "she did the right thing in supporting her husband."

But he added that Anwar's supporters were going to "force the police to arrest the wife" by making her participate in demonstrations.

On Saturday, Azizah drove through a downtown shopping area packed with thousands of anti-government protestors voicing support for Anwar.

Accompanied by her eldest daughter, she waved to the crowd and shook hands with supporters but carefully avoided addressing them following a police order which prevents her from making public speeches.

"I naturally sympathise with the expression of support by the public for reformation and change. I cannot be accused of planning or leading the demonstration," Azizah said Wednesday.

"I appreciated the sentiments expressed and seeing for mysef how peaceful and orderly the crowd was.

"I implore Dr. M to be more responsible in his remarks and not to sound exceedingly arrogant, casting aspersions as he did in the past when Anwar Ibrahim was assaulted by police and even recently, by claiming that my husband is getting VIP treatment in prison.

"My husband is treated just like any other ordinary remand prisoner. He is placed in the prison clinic for observation and the facilities are accorded as other inmates in prison," she added.

Earlier Wednesday, Azizah dismissed rumours that she would be arrested after reporters rushed to her house following rumours of police action.

"I don't understand why there was a rumour that I would be arrested. I have not committed any offence that warrants any arrest," she said

Azizah also said that she was pleased by Mahathir's "assurance" that she was doing the right thing by supporting her husband.

Asked whether her activities on Saturday might be misconstrued by the authorities, Azizah said: "They can misconstrue anything.

"Is it wrong for me to go shopping downtown? Is it against the law? I am not committing any offence. I didn't join the parade. I was passing by."

Anwar, arrested on September 20 and still in jail, goes on trial next month on four charges of corruption. He also faces another corruption charge and five counts of sodomy, carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.


Previous Story:  Indian nationalists deny move to impose Hindu agenda in education (AFP)
Next Story:  US envoy calls on India, Pakistan to respect Kashmiri people (AFP)


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