Malaysia PM Najib to dissolve parliament paving way for elections

Najib's ruling United Malays National Organisation party has led the country since 1957 [AP]
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced the dissolution of parliament, paving the way for a general election that will test his hold on power amid allegations of massive corruption in his government.

Najib said on Friday that he has sought consent from the country's monarch and head of state, Sultan Muhammad, to dissolve parliament by Saturday.

All state legislatures are also expected to announce the dissolution of local legislative bodies to pave the way for simultaneous national and state elections.

According to the Malaysian constitution, the country has to hold a general election within 60 days from the dissolution of the parliament.

There has been no announcement on the date of the election, but it is expected to be held in May.

The announcement comes just a day after the government ordered the temporary dissolution of the country's main opposition party headed by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an erstwhile ally of Najib.

Mahathir has accused Najib of corruption and has formed an alliance to remove him as prime minister.

On Thursay, Mahathir disputed the legality of the order and said his party will not halt its activities.

"I worry that we are losing democracy, especially the democratic right to choose our own leaders through elections," he was quoted by news reports as saying.

Najib's ruling party has also sought to withdraw the country's electoral map, which critics said is designed to favour the administration.

Najib had said the changes were necessary because of significant demographic developments in the country of 32 million people since the last boundary alteration in 2003.

A controversy over state fund 1MDB has dogged Najib's administration, with the US Justice Department alleging $4.5bn was stolen in a campaign of fraud and money-laundering.

Najib and 1MDB have denied any wrongdoing. He was also cleared of wrongdoing by Malaysia's attorney general.

Najib's United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has led the country in a coalition since independence from Britain in 1957. Mahathir previously headed UMNO.

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