4 Mei 2012

Police violence marks Malaysia reform rally...

Malaysian riot police have fired tear gas and used water cannon on a crowd of demonstrators who staged one of the country's largest street rallies in years, demanding fair rules for national elections expected soon.

At least 25,000 demonstrators swamped Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, hoping to pressure Prime Minister Najib Razak's ruling coalition - which has held power for nearly 55 years - to overhaul electoral policies before polls that could be held as early as June.

Authorities insist the elections will be free and fair, rejecting activists' claims that the Election Commission is biased and that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent names.

"The independent Elections Commission has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the next elections are free and fair and meet the highest international standards," Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, minister of home affairs, said in a statement.