Temperature rises in KL, ahead of Free Anwar rally
Kuala Lumpur- Police in Malaysia are allowing a rally in support of opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, to take place on Monday - the day the high court delivers its verdict on his long drawn sodomy trial.
Mr Anwar's PKR party said it plans to gather over 100,000 people outside the court.
Police said they will allow supporters of opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, to gather at a parking lot outside the Kuala Lumpur court complex, when the high court judge delivers his verdict.
Authorities are treading carefully in a bid to prevent a repeat of the massive street rallies seen on July 9 2011, and subsequent police crackdown that severely tarnished the country's image.
Outside Kuala Lumpur, Anwar took time off to perform Friday prayers with his supporters.
He was charged with sodomy in 2008 - a charge, his second in over a decade that he maintains is politically motivated.
The 64-year-old opposition leader faces up to 20 years in jail if the court finds him guilty on Monday, and that would effectively end his political career and any chance of becoming prime minister.
Dr Yeah Kim Leng, head of research, RAM holdings, said: "This is one of the key political events that the government is hinging on in terms of setting the date for next election. So this will be very much a closely watched event to see to what extent the public will react."
Opinions on the likely verdict are mixed.
But the last minute approval by the police for the pro-Anwar rally has led some to believe that an acquittal could be on the cards.
Dr Yeah said: "I think BN will be seen in better light if he's not been found guilty. The current ruling party would still have a slight edge, and the question is whether they are confident enough to have a free Anwar to lead the opposition."
Within the opposition, finding a successor will be the biggest challenge if Anwar is put behind bars again.
Nurul Izzah, vice president, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said: "It's not about the question of me filling his shoes. The question is the struggle for reform is so important, we cannot delay and if, god forbid, they do the worst they can to him, we will all work together to ensure we realise the future of a better Malaysia."
Regardless of the outcome Monday's verdict, analysts said, it represents a major political milestone for the country to cross. Not just for Anwar Ibrahim, the man whom many say has divided the country's Malays for over a decade, but for ordinary Malaysians whom had long sought closure to the case.