Malaysia's opposition forms new alliance

Malaysian opposition leader Wan Azizah, center, attends a meeting for the formation of a new opposition coalition in Kuala Lumpur Image copyright AP
Image caption Wan Azizah Ismail (centre), the wife of jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, will lead the new opposition coalition

Malaysian opposition parties have formed a new alliance after an earlier union collapsed over policy disputes.

The new Alliance of Hope no longer includes an Islamist party that advocates harsh Islamic punishments.

It will be led by the wife of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, jailed in February on sodomy charges that he said were politically motivated.

It comes amid a political scandal that has seen mass protests demanding that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down.

The Alliance of Hope replaces the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance, a three-party coalition formed in 2008 that was the most successful opposition movement in Malaysia's history.

The PR alliance fell apart in June over the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party's (PAS) attempt to enforce a form of Islamic law called hudud in a state it governs.

This time, Mr Anwar's People's Justice Party and the largely ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) have joined with the newly-formed Parti Amanah Negara, made up of defectors from the PAS.

The Alliance of Hope said Mr Anwar would be its choice of leader if it won power, but it is unclear whether he will be free then.

The next elections are due by early 2018.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Prime Minister Najib Razak has been accused of corruption and financial mismanagement - charges he denies

"The country's leadership crisis and financial pressure on people due to mismanagement by Najib Razak requires an immediate solution," the alliance said in a statement.

Mr Najib is accused of pocketing $700m (£455m) of public money from the 1MDB state investment fund, which he set up in 2009.

He denies the claims, and has removed several officials who had criticised his handling of the scandal.

Malaysia's anti-corruption agency has effectively cleared him, saying the money was from foreign donors.

The allegations sparked mass protests in August, with tens of thousands demanding that he resign.

More on this story