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Malaysian government says there’s evidence against Anwar Ibrahim

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The Malaysian government says there’s evidence to back controversial charges against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim over his alleged role in a recent political rally.

Anwar and Azmin were charged with violating a controversial new law governing public gatherings and a court order that banned the April 28 rally from the centre of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“They were not charged for their attendance at the rally,” government spokesman Khairy Jamaluddin told the ABC’s Southeast Asia correspondent Zoe Daniel. “They were charged for breaching a court order which prevented demonstrators from entering Merdeka Square.”

Khairy says there is video evidence which he says will be assessed by the court indicating that Anwar and his supporters gave the instruction to enter the Square.

The charge comes just four months after Anwar was acquitted of sodomy in a long-running trial that Anwar said was engineered to remove him as a political threat.

Anwar’s party has issued a statement descriving the latest charge as politically motivated.

“Having failed to stop Anwar with the trumped-up sodomy charge, (the government) is now trying again in desperation to stop Anwar’s unrelenting march to (power),” it said.

Khairy denies the claim.

“Unfortunately he was the one who ordered the breach. If it was somebody else, then that person would have been charged,” he said.

Tens of thousands of Malaysians marched in last month’s rally organised by electoral-reform group Bersih 2.0, demanding changes to an election system that they say is rigged in the ruling coalition’s favour.

Khairy says reform of the electoral system is already underway.

“I think the message of Bersih is very relevant and the government takes that seriously.

“We’re trying to ensure that the Election Commission, which is an independent body, institutes all the suggestions that were made in the parliamentary select committee [on electoral reform] … to make people more confident with the process.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak must call national elections by early next year, and many observers expect a tight contest after the Anwar-led opposition handed the ruling coalition its worst poll showing ever in 2008.

Khairy believes the coalition will be returned to power.

“Big political change will come from the transformation program that our government has been implementing: political transformation, economic transformation …

“I don’t feel that there will be great electoral change at the next general election.

“And we’re fairly confident that we will still secure a mandate to form the next government.” – MT