Malaysian Electoral Reform Activists to Move Protests

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 8:10 am (UTC-5)
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Malaysian clean-election activists have agreed to move an upcoming mass rally to a stadium in the capital of Kuala Lumpur, after holding talks with the country's constitutional monarch.

The agreement reached Tuesday between leaders of the Bersih movement and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin moves Saturday's planned rally off the streets of Kuala Lumpur, preventing a possible clash between the marchers and authorities. The government has declared the rally illegal, and arrested more than 200 members of the Bersih movement.

Bersih is hoping to attract tens of thousands of people to Saturday's event to demonstrate for electoral reforms ahead of national elections expected to be held within the next year.

The movement last organized a mass rally in 2007, attracting an estimated 30,000 people before police broke up the protest with tear gas and water cannons.

Bersih is backed by a three-party opposition coalition led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The opposition has made major inroads against the ruling party since 2008, ending its decades-long two-thirds majority in parliament and gaining control of a handful of states.