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Malaysian opposition leader charged in 45 graft cases

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Malaysia’s opposition leader and former deputy premier, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, has been charged in 45 corruption cases worth 26 million US dollar.

The charges are a new blow to his beleaguered party United Malays National Organisation, UMNO, which lost power in landmark elections this year.

Ally of scandal-mired ex-leader Najib Razak, Hamidi is accused of crimes that include accepting bribes to award government contracts and money-laundering.

The 65-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges and will stand trial. Najib also attended the hearing to offer support.

Hamidi’s party leads the coalition of parties that ruled Malaysia from independence in 1957 until their shock defeat in May polls.

Many coalition partners abandoned UMNO since, that had become synonymous with widespread graft, divisive racial politics in the multi-ethnic country.