Malaysian police declare opposition rally illegal
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holds a press conference at his party head office in Petaling Jaya on May 7, 2013. Malaysian police have declared illegal a rally planned for Wednesday night by the opposition leader to protest against election results that he says were "stolen" through massive fraud.
"The organiser must comply with the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. Marching without a permit, aimed at arousing anger, is wrong according to the law," national police chief Ismail Omar said, according to state news agency Bernama.
Ismail added that participants would be arrested, Bernama said.
His comments appeared to set the stage for a confrontation if the opposition went ahead with the rally, set to start around 8:00 pm (1200 GMT).
Opposition leaders were not immediately reachable for comment.
Anwar on Tuesday called for a sustained "fierce" campaign for electoral reform and said the opposition would soon produce evidence backing up its claims that Sunday's elections were rife with fraud by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government.
The assembly law cited by Ismail has been widely criticised by rights groups as effectively outlawing street marches.
But other gatherings are allowed if organisers give 10 days' notice to local police. Ismail said no such permission was sought by organisers.
"Comply with the law and use the correct channel to apply for a permit from the district police chief," Bernama quoted him saying.
AFP was not immediately able to contact relevant police officials for clarification.
The election was touted as the first in the country's history in which the opposition had a real chance of unseating the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition that has held a tight grip on power since independence in 1957.
But Najib's government, while ceding a few seats, maintained a firm majority in the 222-member parliament despite garnering just under half of the nationwide popular vote.
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