Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is to face criminal charges over his role in a massive anti-government street protest last month, his lawyer said Monday.
A Kuala Lumpur court will charge Anwar on Tuesday with violating controversial new legislation banning street rallies as well as a court order restricting the April 28 demonstration, his lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah told the Agence France Presse.
The move comes just four months after the one-time deputy prime minister was acquitted of a second round of sodomy charges after spending six years in jail, and amid increasing political tensions with national elections expected to be called soon.
"This is a fresh attempt to bar Anwar from participating in the elections. The sodomy allegations failed, and now this is a new attempt to disqualify him," Sivarasa said. Anwar, who says the previous charges against him were the result of political persecution, could be banned for running for office if convicted.
The charismatic 64-year-old addressed the tens of thousands of protesters who gathered in the center of the Kuala Lumpur last month to call for electoral reforms. The rally turned violent when police fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators who had broken through barricades, Reuters reports.
According to the BBC, the protesters believe the current electoral arrangements in Malaysia will benefit Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition in forthcoming elections. Anwar was previously tipped to lead the country before he fell out with top leaders and was jailed.