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Malaysia’s PM rejects calls to resign

(CNN) — Malaysia’s prime minister took the oath of office for a new five-year term Monday, rejecting calls to resign after an unprecedented electoral setback that has shaken the country’s political landscape, the Associated Press reported.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sworn in at 11:10 a.m. (0310 GMT) in front of King Mizan Zainal Abidin, the constitutional monarch, and dozens of government dignitaries in the national palace’s glittering throne room. The ceremony was telecast live.

I pledge to carry out my duties honestly and with all my abilities, Abdullah said, reading out the oath. I pledge to protect and uphold the Constitution.

In a surprise upset, Malaysia’s ruling party, which has retained power since the nation declared independence in 1967, fell short of a two-thirds majority Saturday amid rising inflation, crime and ethnic tensions.

The protest vote gave the opposition alliance a third of parliament and control of five states, according to the Associated Press.

Political tsunami, read the headline of Malaysia’s The Star newspaper.

The National Front’s loss raised questions about the future of its party leader, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

His predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, has called for his resignation, The Associated Press reported, a prospect Badawi shot down in a news conference after preliminary results were announced.

I’m not resigning, said Badawi, who has held his post since November 2003.

His National Front coalition won 137 of the 222 seats at stake, or less than 62 percent, the Election Commission announced in releasing preliminary results, according to state news agency Bernama.

The opposition alliance of the Democratic Action Party, the People’s Justice Party and the Islamic Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS claimed 82 seats, or 37 percent.

By contrast, in 2004, the National Front clinched 199 of 219 seats, or nearly 91 percent.

Today, at the ballot box, you listened to your heart with a firm conviction that the time for change has arrived, former Deputy Prime Minister and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said. The people of Malaysia have spoken. This is a defining moment, unprecedented in our nation’s history. Watch Anwar describe the election as a defining moment

Badawi has been battling demonstrations against alleged vote fraud for weeks and demanded an overhaul of Malaysia’s electoral commission before the election.

Last fall, more than 30,000 protesters gathered in the streets and faced squads of police with water cannons.
Malaysia’s PM rejects calls to resign – found here.

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March 10, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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