Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Friday announced the dissolution of parliament for an election that will pose one of the sternest tests of his ruling coalition for 60 years, due to a massive financial scandal and a challenge from his one-time mentor and former leader Mahathir Mohamad.
"The king has permitted for parliament to be dissolved effective Saturday, April 7", Najib said in a special address on the state television. Voting must be held within two months but widely expected in early May before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Opposition says the election will be unfair. The result will determine his political future.
"If the leader can provide for people's welfare, that's who we'd pick". "Given the baggage Najib has going into this election, he will need a big win to stay safe".
Mahathir turned on Najib after it was revealed in 2015 that US$681 million allegedly from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had found its way into his former protege's personal accounts. Najib has denied all wrongdoing.
In the last general election held in 2013, BN managed to win 133 out of the 222 seats, though it obtained less than half of the popular votes. It now holds 132 out of 222 parliamentary seats. The government body temporarily deregistered Dr. Mahathir's new political party for incomplete paperwork.
Mahathir accused Najib of terrorizing his opponents to win the polls.
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Anwar, who was jailed on a sodomy charge he claimed was politically motivated, is expected to be released in June.
Sharing the achievements of the Barisan Nasional Government Pledge, Najib said the government had fulfilled 99.4 per cent of its promises until Feb 28 this year. "When we are united, we can oust this rogue".
Najib will make the announcement via state broadcaster RTM, state-linked Berita Harian reported, without citing the source of information. The country has 14.9 million voters.
"I can boldly say that we have delivered and we will continue to deliver".
"Beginning from this moment, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and I as well as all the BN leaders, will go down to the ground to meet the people throughout the nation and give explanations and confidence to the all Malaysians on our manifesto and the direction of the country". Critics have denounced the new electoral maps as gerrymandering in favour of Najib's coalition.
Najib is embroiled in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.