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Malaysian riot police have fired tear gas and used water cannon on a crowd of demonstrators demanding an overhaul in electoral policies in the centre of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
At least 25,000 demonstrators have swamped Malaysia's largest city on Saturday in one of the Southeast Asian nation's biggest street rallies in the past decade.
They massed near the city's historic Merdeka (Independence) Square that police had sealed off with barbed wire and barricades.
Authorities say Bersih, or Coalition for Free and Fair Elections - the opposition-backed pressure group that organised the rally - has no right to use the square.
Some of the demonstrators apparently breached the barriers and police began firing tear gas at them.
The rally reflects concerns that Prime Minister Najib Razak's long-ruling coalition will have an unfair upper hand in elections that could be called as early as June.
Activists have alleged the Election Commission is biased and claimed that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent voters.
March to the barricades
"We will march to the barrier," Ambiga Sreenivasan, Bersih's chairwoman, said.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting earlier from Kuala Lumpur, said: "The police say they will intervene if people defy the order and cross into the square."
Saturday's gathering follows one crushed by police last July, when 1,600 people were arrested.
That rally for clean elections prompted a police crackdown with tear gas and water cannon.
A resulting backlash prompted Najib, Malaysia's prime minister, to set up a parliamentary panel whose eventual report suggested a range of changes to the electoral system.
But Bersih and the opposition are demanding a complete overhaul of a voter roll considered fraudulent and reform of an Election Commission they say is biased in favour of the governing coalition.
Najib has launched a campaign to repeal authoritarian laws in a bid to create what he called "the greatest democracy".
His ruling coalition has governed Malaysia for more than five decades but made a dismal showing against the opposition in 2008, and Najib is under pressure to improve on that.
Source: Malaysian police fire tear gas at protesters
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