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What kind of game is Anwar playing?

The Star/ANN | Joceline Tan | Saturday, Apr 12, 2014

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

It is still game on for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. PKR leaders had confidently predicted that Anwar would withdraw from the contest for the presidency but he has once again stumped everyone.

When the list of confirmed candidates was unveiled yesterday, Anwar's name was up there alongside that of his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as candidates for the president post.

Anwar has never been a conventional political player and that is what makes him so difficult to predict and pre-empt in politics.

Just days ago, the big question was whether Anwar would pull out of the race.

Today, the big question is why he is still in the running.

Party members do not for a moment believe that husband and wife are actually fighting each other for the post, especially not after the way Dr Wan Azizah so lovingly defended him in her maiden speech at the Selangor Legislative Assembly.

It is obvious that Anwar wants to have a say in the outcome of the party election. If he had pulled out, he would have been reduced to background noise by now.

By staying on, Anwar remains a relevant player and his voice still carries weight.

Anwar's priority is less about the presidency and more about the deputy president contest.

Whether or not Anwar pulls out of the race before the election starts will determine who is most likely to win the deputy presidency among the three main contenders - incumbent Azmin Ali, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution.

There is also growing evidence that the big man is backing Saifuddin for the No. 2 job.

Speculation that Anwar prefers Saifuddin has been rife following a four-eyed meeting between Khalid and Anwar on Wednesday, two days before the nominations deadline.

A source said Anwar had explained why he wanted a two-way fight for the No. 2 post.

Anwar reportedly said he feared the contest would become another personality clash between Khalid and Azmin.

He was also concerned that it would become a "Selangor fight" that would affect the party's standing in the state. Both Azmin and Khalid are Selangor-based politicians.

However, he stopped short of asking Khalid to pull out, although he suggested that Khalid and Saifuddin should have a discussion on the matter.

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