Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has urged supporters to stage a protest after Malaysia’s ruling coalition won polls he said were marred by fraud. His call came as PM Najib Razak was sworn into office after his Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) coalition won 133 of the 222 parliamentary seats. Mr Anwar’s three-party alliance secured 89 seats on Sunday in the country’s closest polls since independence. The BN has been in power in Malaysia for more than half a century. The polls saw an 80% voter turnout, amid strong campaigning from both sides.
The BN secured a simple majority but failed to regain the two-thirds parliamentary majority it lost for the first time in 2008. Mr Anwar, who called the results the worst in Malaysia’s history, said it did not reflect the will of the people.
He said that while his coalition has advised supporters against mass rallies, “we must be allowed to express ourselves properly in stadiums or in the vicinity of a public space”. A protest is scheduled to take place outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.
Mr Anwar said the authorities had rejected “the true aspirations of Malaysians wanting reform” and accused the Election Commission of being “complicit in the crime” of fraud. “I don’t think they are the best person to assure us that the election is free,” he told the BBC. He added that there were “specific incidents” of voter fraud involving foreign nationals.
Independent pollster Merdeka Center cited unconfirmed reports of foreign nationals being given ID documents and being allowed to vote. Some of those who voted in advance said that indelible ink on their hands – supposed to last for days and show they had already voted – had easily washed off.
The opposition also accused the government of funding flights for supporters to key states, which the government denied.