Malaysian general election: opposition party wins historic victory

image caption, Mahathir said he hoped the swearing-in ceremony would take place on Thursday.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has won a historic victory in the general election.

Mahathir, 92, defeated the Barisan National Union, which had been in power for 60 years.

He came out of retirement to succeed his former subordinate Najib Razak, who was beset by corruption and cronyism allegations.

“We are not seeking revenge. We want to restore the rule of law,” Mahathir told reporters.

The Election Commission announced that Mahathir’s opposition coalition had won 115 seats, more than the 112 needed to form a government.

He said he hopes the swearing-in ceremony will take place on Thursday. Mahathir becomes the world’s oldest elected leader.

A government spokesperson subsequently declared Thursday and Friday national holidays.

Only a handful of seats remained, with official results showing Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan alliance won 115 seats along with its ally from Borneo’s Sabah state, while BN won 79 seats.

As the results became clear, opposition supporters took to the streets to celebrate.

image caption, Supporters of Mahathir Mohamad take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate

The election campaign pitted Mahathir’s rebel group against incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak’s BN.

BN and its main party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), have dominated Malaysian politics since the country won independence from Britain in 1957, but the once-powerful coalition government has declined in popularity in recent years. ing.

In the last election in 2013, the opposition made an unprecedented breakthrough, winning the popular vote but failing to win enough seats to form a government.

In a dramatic turn of events, then-opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to five years in prison for sodomy, which he said was part of a political smear campaign.

In his resignation, he said he was “embarrassed” to be associated with a party “that is seen as supporting corruption”.

Mr Najib is embroiled in a corruption scandal and is accused of embezzling about $700 million from the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has strongly denied all allegations and has been cleared by Malaysian authorities.

The fund is still being investigated by several countries, and Mr. Najib has been accused of obstructing Malaysia’s investigation by firing key officials.

image source, Getty Images

image caption, Mr. Najib (left) was a former disciple of Mr. Mahathir (center).

The government recently passed a law to redraw electoral district boundaries, leading to accusations that it was gerrymandering constituencies to ensure they were filled by Malay Muslims, who traditionally support BN. Ta.

A few days before election day, the electoral reform group Bershi 2.0 accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of multiple election crimes, including fraudulent postal voting and failure to remove dead people from the electoral register.

A controversial fake news law was also introduced recently, which critics say could be used by authorities to silence dissent.

Mahathir himself is being investigated under the same law, alleging sabotage on his plane.

image source, Getty Images

image caption, Malaysians were given permanent ink marks on their fingers to show they had voted.

The government insists the elections will be held free and fair, and Najib said the EC was acting “in the interests of all.”

Voters elected 222 members of Congress and state legislatures in 12 of the 13 states.

Malaysia uses a first-past-the-post system, in which the party that wins the most seats wins, even if it does not win the popular vote.

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