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Malaysia PM sworn in amid opposition protests

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim alleges electoral fraud and calls on supporters to protest on Wednesday.

Last Modified: 06 May 2013 16:00
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Malaysia has sworn in Najib Razak for a second term as prime minister after the coalition which has ruled for 56 years held on to power in elections branded as fraudulent by a bitter opposition.

Najib took his oath on Monday in front of King Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

"After my inauguration as prime minister, I vow to honestly carry out all my obligations with full dedication," Najib said.

"I will be truly faithful to Malaysia and will preserve, protect and defend the institution."

Najib's Barisan Nasional or National Front coalition won 133 seats in the 222-member parliament - down a fraction from the 135 it won in 2008. It also lost the popular vote. 

"There is a sense of rejection within the urban Malaysian voters to accept this rhetoric," Herizal Hazri, an official of Malaysia Asia Foundation, said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

"They want a more inclusive Malaysia, they want to vote for parties that represents all race groups."

The opposition Pakatan Rakyat or People's Pact coalition, led by Anwar Ibrahim, won 89 seats.

On Monday, Ibrahim called for a rally in two days' time to protest at a victory he said was achieved via the "worst electoral fraud in our history".

"I call upon as many Malaysians to join hands and express our rejection and disgust at the unprecedented electoral fraud committed by Najib Razak and the EC [Election Commission]," Anwar said in a statement.

Supporters of the three-party opposition alliance were left bitter and despondent after an election, which they hoped would bring a historic change of government.

Minority government

The election results make Najib the first leader in four decades to win with a minority of the ballots according to Malaysian media.

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Critics said the figure proved the electoral system was skewed in the government's favour.

Najib, 59, who had promised free and fair polls and has since brushed off numerous allegations of irregularities.

Shortly after his victory, he acknowledged that the election, which indicated that ethnic Chinese had continued a trend of deserting Barisan Nasional, had laid bare deep racial divisions in the majority Malay country.

"Overall, the results show a trend of polarisation which worries the government. If it is not addressed it can create tension or division in the country," he said, promising to pursue reconciliation.

Anwar said the opposition would look into fraud allegations in dozens of constituencies and decide "whether [to file] election petitions or to go to the courts".

The opposition has made major inroads in recent years under Anwar - a former Barisan Nasional star who was ousted and jailed by the regime in a 1998 power struggle - by capitalising on public fatigue with corruption and authoritarianism.

Outraged voters took to the Internet in droves to complain that indelible ink which Najib touted as a guarantee against multiple voting was found to easily wash off.

Videos, pictures and first-hand accounts of angry citizens confronting purportedly foreign "voters" at polling centres also went viral online.

Anwar has alleged there was a scheme to fly tens of thousands of "dubious" and possibly foreign voters to sway the outcome in key constituencies.

Analysts had said Najib could have faced an internal party challenge in his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the ultimate power in the ruling coalition, had he lost significant ground but that risk may have receded.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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