Malaysian opposition's Anwar, ally face charges

AP News
Posted: May 21, 2012 5:52 AM
Malaysian opposition's Anwar, ally face charges

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and one of his senior allies have been summoned to court to face charges of participating in an illegal street protest, his party said Monday.

Both men were among tens of thousands of people who demonstrated in Kuala Lumpur demanding more electoral transparency ahead of national polls expected within the next few months.

Anwar and his People's Justice Party's No. 2 leader, Azmin Ali, received notices to appear in court Tuesday on accusations of violating the Peaceful Assembly Act, the party said in a statement.

The court-issued notices indicated they would be charged with crimes that carry a maximum fine of 10,000 ringgit ($3,190) and loss of their Parliament seats if convicted. It was not clear whether they would face other charges under the act that provide for jail terms of several months.

Representatives of the Attorney General's Office could not immediately be reached.

The rally was held last month to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition to overhaul what the opposition and many political activists call biased electoral policies that have enabled the coalition to remain in power since 1957.

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Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest after some demonstrators breached a police barrier at a public square that had been declared off-limits.

National polls are not due till 2013 but speculation has been rife that Najib will dissolve Parliament by September.

Opposition activists insist the Election Commission is biased and that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent names. Government and electoral officials deny the accusations.

(This version CORRECTS date to Monday instead of Tuesday in first paragraph)