World

Malaysia's PM Najib dissolves parliament

Kathmandu

Apr 6, 2018-Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the dissolution of parliament on Friday, paving the way for a tough election where the embattled leader will face off against his old mentor and the country’s most seasoned campaigner Mahathir Mohamad, Reuters reported.

Najib, 64, burdened by a multi-billion dollar scandal linked to a state fund, is under pressure to deliver an emphatic win for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as he struggles to appease Malaysians unhappy with rising costs and blunt the challenge from the charismatic 92-year-old Mahathir.

Najib is expected to retain power due to a deep rift in opposition ranks between Mahathir’s bloc and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, but analysts predict a tough fight from Mahathir, who transformed Malaysia into an industrial nation from a rural backwater during his iron-fisted 22-year rule until 2003.

Najib’s opponents say the election will be unfair. In the lead up to the polls, the parliament approved plans to redraw electoral boundaries and passed a contentious anti-fake news bill, changes his opponents claim favour Najib and his ruling allies. The government rejects the charge.

“The king has permitted for parliament to be dissolved effective Saturday, April 7,” Najib said in a special announcement on the state TV broadcaster on Friday.

“If victory is given to BN, we promise to do our best, to carry out a bigger, more inclusive and more comprehensive transformation of the country,” Najib said.

Polling must be held within 60 days from the dissolution of parliament. The Election Commission is expected to meet within the week to announce a date for the vote.

Najib’s announcement comes on the back of robust growth for Malaysia, buoyed by a recovery in global crude oil prices and increased trade and infrastructure investment from Malaysia’s largest trading partner, China.

A general election was widely expected to be called last year, but Najib held off, apparently to allow time for the introduction of budgetary reforms aimed at lower income families and rural voters — a key supporter bloc for his coalition.

 

Published: 06-04-2018 16:00

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