Bangkok, Nov 21 (EFE).- Malaysia’s king announced Monday that he was extending by 24 hours the deadline given to political parties to form a government after no coalition achieved an absolute majority in the recently held general elections for the first time in the country’s history.
King Abdullah of Pahang extended until 2 pm Tuesday, the deadline given to political parties and coalitions to agree upon and propose a prime minister that he will have to approve later.
The extension comes after unsuccessful negotiations by the country’s main political forces following the release of the results of Saturday’s elections, in which two Malaysian coalitions, the main opposition Pakatan Harapan (the Hope Alliance) and conservative Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) have claimed victory.
As per the final vote count, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) have won 82 and 73 seats respectively, much below the majority mark of 112, while incumbent Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Barisan Nasional (BN) could only manage to secure 30 seats.
Both PH leader Anwar Ibrahim – a longtime aspirant for the prime minister’s post – and PN’s former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who briefly led the country after Mahathir Mohamed’s resignation in 2020, claimed early on Sunday that they were in a position to form government and launched negotiations with other groups.
Despite his party’s poor performance, BN leader Zahid Hamidi, who met Anwar on Monday, seems to hold the key to the government and has not yet disclosed who he will back.
The defeat of the BN – led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – points to the sustained decline of this party which remained in power in Malaysia since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 until 2018.
The UMNO’s influence has waned mainly due to corruption scandals involving its leaders.
The multimillion-dollar embezzlement at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) under former prime minister Najib Razak (2009-2018) – who is serving a prison term in the case – paved the way for UMNO’s collapse.
More than 900 candidates were in the fray for 220 of the 222 parliamentary seats – elections on two seats were withheld due to the death of a candidate and flooding – in the most closely fought elections in Malaysian history, with no end in sight to the political crisis. EFE