Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday warned the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) that its dominant political role was under threat from foreign powers. He also accused the United States of wanting to make Malaysia a colony again. Addressing an extraordinary general meeting of UMNO, which was called to make changes to the party's electoral process, Dr Mahathir portrayed his sacked deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, as a Western puppet. He attacked the United States for supporting Anwar, describing it as an attempt to undermine the Malay-controlled Government. Analysts said the warning was aimed at binding the divided party, which split over the sacking and subsequent trial of Anwar, by raising the spectre of a Western plot to overthrow the Government. They said it was also intended to overcome continuing support for Anwar in the party and among members of the public, especially in rural areas, where many people believe his contention that he is the victim of a political conspiracy. Dr Mahathir said he had not decided on appointing a new deputy, though many senior UMNO leaders wanted him to do so soon. Financial markets had widely expected that a new deputy would be announced yesterday. Delegates to the meeting said the issue was of great concern to the party, though none of them wanted to discuss it openly. Asked by journalists about the type of person he was looking for to appoint as his deputy, he said: 'An exact replica of myself if it is possible. I know it is not possible, the main thing is the policies should be the same, to give comfort to investors in this country.' Anwar is being tried on charges of corrupt practices and faces a further hearing on counts of sodomy. Dr Mahathir mentioned no names in his speech but he clearly alluded to Anwar and the American administration, especially its Vice-President, Al Gore, who expressed open support for the former deputy prime minister's reformasi - or reform - movement at the recent APEC summit in Kuala Lumpur. Dr Mahathir, who is president of UMNO, said foreign powers were seeking to install a puppet within Malaysia to recolonise the country. Having identified their puppet, they would use his 'weakness' to manipulate him and take various steps to ensure he was 'at their mercy'. Dr Mahathir said the foreign powers would also 'tutor' their puppet so he would express their views. This appeared to be a reference to Anwar's support for the US-backed policies of the International Monetary Fund, which the Prime Minister opposed. Eventually they expected their puppet to 'take over the leadership of the country and obey their orders'. But Anwar was removed from office and faces a long trial and possible imprisonment. Dr Mahathir said upon losing their puppet, the wrath of the 'foreign manipulators' was boundless.