Malaysia's former authoritarian ruler claims clear mandate to govern, vows reforms

Parti Islam Se Malaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang arrives at a rally in Sungai Baru Gunung Alor Setar Kedah

Parti Islam Se Malaysia president Abdul Hadi Awang arrives at a rally in Sungai Baru Gunung Alor Setar Kedah

Malaysian markets soured Wednesday after it grew more likely that Mahathir Mohamad and opposition alliance would end the ruling coalition's grip on power in Malaysia, which has not occured since the Southeast Asian country gained independence in 1957.

Factors such as the recent redrawing of electoral boundaries, which created more ethnic Malay majority seats, and the midweek polling date expected to depress voter turnout were also supposed to favor BN.

"It is ironic that the man who crushed the opposition while in power has remade himself in retirement as the de facto leader of what in essence is a citizens' revolt", he said ahead of the vote. "I hope we'll have a better Malaysia now".

Defeat could just be the beginning of Najib's troubles.

Anwar took on Mahathir, turning overnight into an opposition politician, bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets, shouting "Reformasi".

On Thursday, Mahathir said that the "rule of law" would prevail when it comes to 1MDB, and if Najib did anything wrong "then he will have to face the consequences".

A recently passed "fake news" law was an attempt to stifle debate and criticism, opponents said. Mahathir Mohamad says the opposition parties who won a shock victory in Malaysia's elections have a clear mandate to form a new government and he expects to be sworn in as prime minister on Thursday.

As well as seizing control of the national government, several state legislatures across the country fell into opposition hands for the first time, including the highly symbolic bastion of Johor, the birthplace of Najib's party that was the lynchpin of the ruling coalition.

The results from the Election Commission showed the opposition grouping, Pakatan Harapan, plus a party in the Borneo state of Sabah they are allied with, winning 115 seats - giving them a simple parliamentary majority.

"We would like to make it clear that there is the urgency here to form a government now". Mr. Razak's BN coalition only managed 79 seats.

Najib was nowhere to be seen as the evening wore on, and was believed to have holed up inside his house for talks with senior members of BN.

He says the opposition's majority is bigger than announced so far.

"There were defamatory and seditious statements that said Barisan cheated during the general elections", said Najib in an address at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Thursday (May 10) morning.

Huge numbers of voters earlier flocked to the polls across the country, despite Najib having called the election on a weekday in what critics said was a bid to keep turnout down.

While a seemingly unlikely choice to lead an opposition that had formed in large part to challenge corruption alleged during his own 22-year rule, Mahathir was seen as the best hope for catalyzing a "Malay tsunami" - shifting the country's ethnic majority from the party they have always been loyal to.

In an even more unlikely change of heart, Mahathir buried a feud with Anwar, 70, past year and the two agreed to join forces to topple Najib.

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