Saturday, 8 March 2008

Polls close

Aljazeera reports:

Polls close in Malaysian Election

Voters have cast their ballots in Malaysia's general election, which is seen to be a test of popularity for the country's prime minister at a time of rising ethnic tensions.

The ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN), has ruled Malaysia since independence 50 years ago and is certain to retain power.

Voting began just after dawn on Saturday at about 8,000 polling booths across the country.

As voting got under way police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of 300 opposition supporters at a poll-related incident in northeastern Terengganu state.

Twenty-two people were arrested after throwing stones at buses, allegedly carrying people they feared would cast bogus votes.

Opposition protests

Supporters of Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) stopped several buses and cars which they suspected were transporting supporters of the ruling National Front coalition pretending to be voters from the district.

Musa Hassan, a local police chief, told a news conference: "The PAS supporters threw stones at police vehicles, forcing the police to release tear gas to control the situation."

Large crowds had flocked to opposition rallies during the campaign, especially ethnic Chinese and Indian voters unhappy with the BN government, dominated by politicians from the Muslim majority of ethnic Malays. Continue here.

AFP pix: Riot police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of 300 opposition demonstrators in Terengganu state [AFP]

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