Malaysian PM Razak dissolves parliament ahead of vote

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The 64-year-old leader is expected to retain power due to a rift in opposition ranks between Mahathir's bloc and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

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

The dissolution was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday after receiving consent from the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

Meanwhile, EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah confirmed to Bernama that he received notice on the dissolution through email and would hold a special meeting to determine the important dates for the GE14.

The government has indeed implemented an inclusive and comprehensive transformation which has yielded at least seven successes for the people and country since 2009, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

A general election was widely expected to be called past year, but Mr Najib held off, apparently to allow time for the introduction of budgetary reforms aimed at lower-income families and rural voters, who make up a key voting bloc for his ruling BN coalition.

Political observers predict that the election will be held at the end of this month or early next month before Muslims begin the Ramadan fast in the middle of May.

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Najib's announcement comes on the back of robust growth for Malaysia, buoyed by a recovery in global crude oil prices and increased trade and infrastructure investment from Malaysia's largest trading partner, China.

The government has also approved the election commission's plan to redraw electoral boundaries and passed a contentious anti-fake news bill, changes that the opposition claims would favour Najib and his ruling allies.

There are 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state states to be contested in this coming election.

A scandal surrounding sovereign wealth fund 1MDB has worsened its problems. He denies any wrongdoing and has been cleared by the attorney-general who said the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family. Transactions related to 1MDB are under investigation in six countries including the US, Singapore and Switzerland.

But analysts predict a tough fight from Mahathir, who transformed Malaysia into an industrial nation from a rural backwater during his iron-fisted 22-year rule until 2003.

However victory has become less certain since 92-year-old Mahathir - who was premier for over two decades - came out of retirement to take on one-time protege Najib at the head of the opposition.

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