Malaysia's Mahathir to become world's oldest leader

May 11, 2018, 08:18 IST | Agencies

In a lively news conference peppered with cussing and trademark wisecracks, 92-year-old Mahathir flagged significant changes for Malaysia

Mahathir Mohamad
Mahathir Mohamad

Malaysia's former authoritarian ruler Mahathir Mohamad, who in a stunning political comeback led opposition parties to their first election victory in six decades, is set to become the world's oldest elected leader at 92.

In a lively news conference peppered with cussing and trademark wisecracks, 92-year-old Mahathir flagged significant changes for Malaysia, which he described as being left in a "mess" by defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak and the National Front coalition.

Najib Razak. Pics/AFP
Najib Razak. Pics/AFP

The election result is a political earthquake for the Muslim-majority country, ending the National Front's unbroken 60-year rule and sweeping aside Najib, whose reputation was tarnished by a monumental corruption scandal, a crackdown on dissent and the imposition of an unpopular sales tax that hurt many of his coalition's poor rural supporters.

"We need to have this government today without delay," Mahathir said. "There is a lot of work to be done. You know the mess the country is in and we need to attend to this mess as soon as possible and that means today."

Supporters of the incoming government took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate their victory. Many analysts had thought the National Front might lose the popular vote, but cling to a majority in parliament.

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