Thousands of Malaysians dressed in mourning black gathered yesterday to denounce elections which they claim were stolen through fraud by the coalition that has ruled for 56 years.
The rally was called by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has vowed a "fierce" campaign for electoral reform after losing Sunday's vote and has said he would soon produce evidence of fraud by what he calls an "illegitimate" government.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition government has hotly denied the opposition's numerous allegations of cheating.
It also denounced the gathering in a 25,000-seat stadium on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
In a statement, the coalition said Anwar has "deliberately chosen a small stadium to ensure it will spill onto the streets. His protest is calculated to create unrest."
Previous election reform protests have ended in wild scenes, with police using tear gas and water cannon. Police had earlier threatened to arrest participants in yesterday's rally.
But with tension high over the country's closest-ever election result, police backed off and a festive atmosphere prevailed as rally-goers waved opposition party flags and blared vuvuzela horns.
Among other allegations, voters complained that indelible ink -- meant to thwart multiple voting -- easily washed off. Accounts of suspected foreign "voters" being confronted by angry citizens at polling centres went viral online.