By Jalil Hamid
PERMATANG PAUH, Malaysia (Reuters) – Malaysia’s opposition alliance, which backs Anwar Ibrahim in his bid to return to parliament, said on Monday that some of its supporters had been removed from voter lists ahead of a crucial by-election.
As tensions mounted in the usually sleepy northern Malaysian enclave of Permatang Pauh, police sent in reinforcements to prevent clashes between rival groups and there were reports of a scuffle between Anwar supporters and government backers.
The vote pits Anwar, an ex-deputy prime minister who is now the de facto opposition leader, against the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party in the coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.
Tensions have mounted with the nightly airing on television of testimony sworn on the Koran by a 23-year-old former male aide who says he was sodomised by Anwar. Anwar has been formally charged with the offence and will appear in court on September 10.
“Clearly this election can only be fair and free when the media is free and when the Election Commission is credible and respected as an independent commission. We don’t have that on both accounts,” Anwar told a press conference on Monday.
Earlier, the Anwar camp said that Malaysia’s Election Commission had removed 949 names from the voter list that was used in the March 8 general elections. [http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKKLR18099320080825]