Malaysia snap election next month

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia will head to the polls on 19 November, officials said Thursday, after the prime minister called for a snap election to restore political stability.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament earlier this month and called for the vote a year ahead of schedule to shore up his slim majority in the 222-member legislature.

The “election date is 19 November” Election Commission chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said at a press conference.

Nomination day for candidates will be on 5 November, with 97-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad among those expected to join the fray.

Ismail’s UMNO, the dominant party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, will contest the polls head-on with its bitter rival Pakatan Harapan alliance led by veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Others in the fray include a host of Malay-based parties, including Pejuang which is led by Mahathir, who has said he will be available to become prime minister for the third time.

Ismail is the third prime minister Malaysia has had in four years, underscoring the political instability that followed the last general elections in 2018.

UMNO — which ruled the country for over 60 years — had suffered a shock defeat amid allegations of massive corruption linked to state fund 1MDB.

Then-prime minister Najib Razak, embroiled in the scandal involving billions of dollars allegedly pilfered from the sovereign wealth fund, was ousted, charged with corruption and convicted after a lengthy trial.

In August, he started serving a 12-year jail sentence for the initial batch of charges, although he faces dozens more that could keep him in prison longer.

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