Mahathir invited to form the next government in Malaysia

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Veteran Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad has been invited to form the next government after the opposition alliance led by the former long-time prime minister claimed a shock victory in the 14th general election.

A swearing-in ceremony is expected to take place at the King’s palace in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, at 21:30 local time (13:30GMT), Malaysian news agency Bernama reported, quoting the national palace officer.

At 92, Mahathir would be the world’s oldest head of government.

The veteran leader met with the king on Thursday as he sought permission to swiftly form a government and quell concerns around the succession after a stunning win over the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled for six decades.

“There has been some delays over the lack of understanding of the constitution, but we’d like to make it clear that there is an urgency here,” the 92-year-old told reporters earlier in the day.

“We need to form a government now, today,” Mahathir added, stressing that the defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak’s rule as an interim government is “now over”.

The opposition won 113 seats – one more than required for simple majority – and the BN has 79 in the 222-member parliament, according to official results announced on Thursday.

The election race was one of the most closely contested in Malaysia’s history, with Mahathir coming out of retirement to take on his former protege, Najib, who has been embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly 10 years, said he accepted the “verdict of the people” but called for calm as the country awaits the King’s approval.

“The King will decide who will be made prime minister according to the constitution,” Najib told reporters on Thursday.

“This [Barisan Nasional] party will respect whatever decision the King makes and I would like to urge the people of Malaysia to remain calm and place confidence in the King to make a decision.”

King’s approval

A simple majority of 112 seats is required by a party or alliance to rule, a number Mahathir said his Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, secured to defeat Najib’s ruling coalition. 

WATCH: Malaysia’s opposition pulls off shocking election win

Mahathir turned against his former protege, Najib, in the wake of a massive financial scandal. 

The US Justice Department says $4.5bn was looted from the 1MBD investment fund by associates of the prime minister between 2009 and 2014, including $700m that landed in Najib’s bank account.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly 10 years, said he accepted the “verdict of the people”.

The corruption allegations have dogged Najib for years and appeared to have soured Malaysian voters.

A day after the shock win, Malaysians are still taking stock of the election results, Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Kuala Lumpur, said. 

“There has been disillusionment with the previous government with the rise in cost of living, corruption allegations, so they feel like they have mobilised some kind of change,” she said. 

“At the moment there is some sense of euphoria here.”

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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