“This is clearly a politically case, a politically motivated case,” – Anwar Ibrahim

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Kuala Lumpur (May,22) The Malaysian Opposition Leader Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim says charges being laid against him are designed to deflect attention from electoral corruption. Police have indicated he’ll face two charges over last month’s mass protest in Kuala Lumpur in which demonstrators were calling for free and fair elections.

The rally turned violent after protesters breached a barricade set up around the city’s Merdeka Square, and Anwar and PKR deputy president, Azmin Ali, were accused of inciting demonstrators to break the barrier.

Anwar has told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program the charges are baseless. “This is clearly a politically case, a politically motivated case,” he said.”The intention of the Prime Minister Razak is to deflect from the central issue about fraud. “The whole issue is about fraud or electoral fraud. Now, he wants to go the elections with the same system and deflect from the central issue of fraud and corruption.”

Anwar will appear in court on today.

Legal pressure
The 64-year-old Anwar has spent six years in jail on sodomy and corruption charges.

He was acquitted of another sodomy charge in January.

Anwar says the previous charges against him were a result of political persecution Analysts say putting further legal pressure on Anwar could prove risky for the government by increasing sympathy votes for the de-facto leader of the three-party opposition coalition.

Violent protest
Anwar addressed the tens of thousands of protesters who flocked to the centre of Kuala Lumpur late last month to demand changes to the country’s electoral laws. The protest turned violent when police fired teargas and water cannons at protesters who had broken through barricades. A video later surfaced showing Mr Anwar gesturing Azmin Ali shortly before the barricades were breached.

Government allies say the video showed Anwar had encouraged the breach, something he and Azmin – who has also received a summons on the same charge – have denied. Police arrested hundreds of protesters and were accused by human rights groups of an overzealous response, including beating unarmed demonstrators and assaulting journalists.