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Malaysia's opposition pulls off shocking election win

Mahathir Mohamad's alliance wins 112 seats in parliament, ending the 60-year reign of the ruling Barisan Nasional.

Supporters of Mahathir Mohamad

An opposition alliance led by Malaysia's former ruler Mahathir Mohamad has won a majority in parliament, official results show. 

The shock victory on Thursday ends the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition's 60-year grip on power. 

The Election Commission said the opposition has so far won 112 seats and the BN has 76.

The election race was one of the most closely contested in Malaysia's history, with 92-year-old Mahathir coming out of retirement to take on his former protege, Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

Mahahtir said he will be sworn in as Malaysia's leader on Thursday becoming the oldest prime minister in the world. 

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, had secured to defeat Najib's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).

"We are not seeking revenge, we are seeking to restore the rule of law," Mahathir told reporters early Thursday.

There was no immediate comment from officials with BN, which governed Malaysia for the past six decades. 

Journalists flocked to the headquarters of Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the lynchpin in the ruling coalition, but he failed to turn up to give a speech and the media were told to leave.

Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly 10 years, is expected to address the media at 11am local time (03:00 GMT) on Thursday. 

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

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.

Game changer 

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome, attributed the opposition's gains to Mahathir. 

"There is a massive swing across races. It's a big shift. This is a repudiation of Najib's government from all walks of life from the very rural northern states to the more industrial southern coast," she said. 

"The person who has made this happen is Mahathir. He has been a significant game changer. He made people feel that a transition of power is possible," she said.

The opposition's victory made history. 

"Few Malaysians thought they would live to see this day," Malaysia Kini, a Malaysian news website, said in an editorial. "This is the first time the country has witnessed a change of government since independence from the British in 1957."

BN's rout was made possible by a "Malaysian tsunami", in which all major ethnic groups turned out to vote against the ruling coalition, it said. 


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