Malaysian PM announces parliament dissolution

Najib Razak’s five-year term as prime minister officially ends on June 24

Mr Najib said he met Malaysia's king, Sultan Muhammad V, to gain approval for the dissolution.

The 64-year-old ruling party leader has come under pressure from various quarters, including the worldwide community for several high-profile issues including the multi-billion dollar fund mismanagement of a state investment arm, questionable management of Felda and Mara investments, rising cost of living and accusations of corruption and cronyism.

"Should Najib win this election through his tricks and his cheating, then we can kiss goodbye to democracy in the 15th, 16th, 17th elections", Mahathir said.

On Friday, Mohamad said it would be a "dirty election".

The Election Commission is expected to meet within a week to set a polling date.

Also present with Najib during the telecast was deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and other Cabinet ministers.

The ruling coalition headed by Najib has been in power since independence in 1957 but their support has been dropping in recent years, and a scandal surrounding sovereign wealth fund 1MDB that captured global headlines has added to their problems.

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But his government stoked criticism last week by pushing a controversial redrawing of the electoral map through parliament which critics say will tilt the poll in Najib's favour.

He resisted demands to step down in 2015 despite reports of financial mismanagement at 1Malaysia Development Berhad, including an allegation that he received $681 million (Rs 4,425 crore) in his personal bank account.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing with 1MDB, but the scandal created a rift between Najib and Mahathir, who has become the prime minister's harshest critic.

Malaysia has a first-past-the-post election system, which is based on the number of seats won, not the popular vote.

But a weaker result, even if the coalition retains power, could lead to an internal leadership challenge against Najib. Normally, the elections for 222-member House of Representatives are held within two months after the dissolution of the parliament.

"This will in fact be the most unpredictable general election in Malaysian politics", he said.

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