KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (AFP) - Two leaders of the opposition party headed by the wife of jailed Malaysian ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim were charged Friday with illegal assembly, party officials said.

Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Noor, youth chief of the National Justice Party (Keadilan), was charged under the Police Act with inciting people to attend weekend protests to mark the first anniversary of Anwar's sentencing, said the party's vice secretary Law Chee Chong.


Keadilan's vice-president Tian Chua, who was detained Sunday, was not charged with Saturday's protests but in connection with another rally last month against curbs on an opposition newspaper, he said.


Chua was charged with unlawful assembly on March 11 to protest the government's decision to severely restrict sales of Harakah, owned by the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Law added.


PAS is part of an opposition alliance including Keadilan.


Chua told AFP that both he and Ezam had been released on bail. They face a penalty of up to one year's jail or a maximum fine of 10,000 ringgitdollars) if convicted, he said.


Another three detained Keadilan youth leaders -- Muhammad Zahid Arip, Gobalan Krishnan and Sanusi Abdullah -- were not charged and had been released on bail, he said.


Chua said the charges against him and Ezam -- both already faced several other charges -- were "politically-motivated to extinguish the reform movement."


They were among some 50 people detained over the weekend following sporadic demonstrations in the city centre where police used water cannons and teargas to disperse protestors.


Heavy security foiled plans for a mass rally and a march to the palace to submit a memorandum on Anwar's case to the king.


Anwar, 52, sacked by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in September 1998, was jailed for abuse of power and is now on trial for alleged sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years.


He says he is the victim of a high-level conspiracy because he intended to expose corruption and was seen as a political threat to the premier.