Malaysian PM dissolves parliament, calls for snap polls

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced parliament would be dissolved on Monday, paving the way for general elections due to be held in early November.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced parliament would be dissolved on Monday, paving the way for general elections due to be held in early November.

The elections would take place nine months before parliament’s term expires, following calls for early polls by Ismail’s United Malays National Organization. UMNO, the largest party in the ruling coalition, was feuding with its allies and aiming for a big victory on its own.

Ismail said he met King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah on Sunday, who consented to the dissolution. He said he had decided to call early polls to counter criticism of his government’s legitimacy – the third since polls in 2018.

“With this announcement, the mandate will be returned to the people. The people’s mandate is a powerful antidote” to creating a strong and stable government, Ismail said in a TV announcement.

The electoral commission is expected to meet within the week to announce a date for the vote, which must take place within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament. It will likely be held in early November ahead of the year-end monsoon season which often brings devastating floods.

UMNO allies in government and opposition parties have protested against any plans to hold elections during the monsoon season, which last year killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands. . But top UMNO leaders recently decided that polls should be held this year for UMNO to benefit from returning ethnic Malay voters and a distraught opposition.

“Ismail Sabri succumbed to pressure from his UMNO party, serving the shortest term as prime minister and entering the country in the polls during a dangerous season of monsoon floods,” said Asia expert Bridget Welsh South East at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia.

“UMNO believe they have the upper hand with early polls and have kept up the pressure as they hope to return to power as the dominant party,” she said.

UMNO has ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 but was toppled in the 2018 election by a multi-billion dollar financial scandal that saw former Prime Minister Najib Razak jailed for 12 years for corruption. The party’s current president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is also on trial for corruption.

UMNO returned to power in March 2020 as part of a majority Muslim coalition government after the reformist alliance led by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad collapsed due to defections.

The new government was unstable due to a very narrow majority in parliament, and then-prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was forced to resign 17 months later after some UMNO lawmakers withdrew their support. .

Ismail, who was Muhyiddin’s deputy, was appointed by the king in August 2021 to take over, returning the post of prime minister to UMNO. But UMNO remained at odds with Muhyiddin’s Bersatu and another Islamic ally, all of whom vie for support from ethnic Malay Muslims who make up more than 60% of Malaysia’s 33 million people.

The Associated Press


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