Malaysia has ordered the temporary dissolution of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s new political party because of missing paperwork.
The country is gearing up for a general election that could be called any day.
The de-registration is a major blow for Mahathir, 92, who is leading a campaign by a federal opposition alliance to remove Najib Razak, the prime minister.
In a letter dated Thursday, the Registrar of Societies said Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia had failed to meet a 30-day deadline to hand over paperwork proving the party had complied with registration requirements.
“Hence a temporary order for the aforementioned society to be dissolved from the date of this order,” Surayati Ibrahim, the registrar, said in the letter, seen by Reuters news agency.
Mahathir’s party can appeal against the ruling if it provides the required documents within 30 days, failing of which will make the order permanent, Surayati was quoted by media as saying.
The decision to deregister Mahathir’s party comes a day before Najib is widely expected to dissolve parliament before the election.
Najib’s undefeated coalition, led by his United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) Party, faces arguably its toughest electoral test since the country’s independence in 1957, with Mahathir leading the opposition charge.
Mahathir turned on Najib after it was revealed in 2015 that $681m in alleged funds from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) found their way into his former protege’s personal accounts.
More than six countries are investigating alleged misappropriation of funds linked to 1MDB.
Najib has denied all wrongdoing.
Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years, has mended ties with jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in an attempt to form a cohesive opposition coalition to remove Najib.