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Elections

Malaysia's opposition coalition to contest election results

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has said he will contest the results of the national elections, accusing the government of "voter irregularities." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Razak has been sworn in.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C), his wife Rosmah Mansor (L) and deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin celebrate the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition electoral victory, on May 6, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. Country's Election Comission said the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition led by Premier Najib Razak secured 112 parliamentary seats, the threshold required to form a government in the 222-seat chamber. Malaysians voted in record numbers in the general election but the hotly anticipated day was dogged by accusations of electoral irregularities. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Wahlen Malaysia 2013 Ergebnis

The opposition leader made his comments shortly after the results were announced. "Irregularities," Ibrahim said, cost his alliance numerous tightly contested seats.

"We want the elections commission to explain the irregularities," Ibrahim told reporters following the announcement of results which gave his three-party coalition 73 seats in the national assembly. "We want the elections commission to resolve the disputed seats," he added.

Malaysia's Electoral Commission announced Sunday evening the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition had secured 133 of Malaysia's 222 parliamentary seats to win a majority, and ensuring an extension to its 56-year unbroken rule, Commission chair Aziz Yusof told a press conference following the count.

The other contested seats, the commission added, were still too close to call.

Najib called for all Malaysians to accept his party's victory. "We have to show to the world that we are a mature democracy," he said in a nationally televised news conference.

"Despite the extent of the swing against us, (the National Front) did not fall, he added.

Within minutes of the result being announced thousands of Malaysian opposition supporters replaced their Facebook profile pictures with black boxes.

Record numbers

With a record 80 percent voter turnout; this week's opinion polls showed strong support for Ibrahim's opposition alliance.

A survey released on Friday by the Merkeda Center for Opinion Research showed the opposition just 1 percentage point ahead of incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak's long ruling ethnic-Malay Barisan regime.

The party has held power for decades, but anger rose across the country in recent days over controversial policies favoring Malays, as well as authoritarian tactics and corruption.

More than 10.6 million of the 13.3 million eligible voters cast their vote for 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats, deputy elections commissioner Ahmad Omar said. This was the first postcolonial election in which the incumbent coalition has faced a genuine challenge

Warnings of voter fraud

Earlier the opposition had alleged several irregularities in the vote including a charge that tens of thousands of "dubious" voters were flown to key constituencies to sway results.

According to election commission chief Abdul Aziz Yusof, however, it is not an offense to pay for travel expenses, so long as citizens are not instructed which way to vote.

The secretary of the National Front, Adnan Mansor, admitted that its allies had organized chartered flights, but said they were not so-called unregistered "phantom voters.”

He countered that the opposition had chartered buses to transport voters back from Singapore, and that the monitor group Coalition for Free and Fair Elections "has paid for Malaysians to fly back from Shanghai and Hong Kong."

Some online media outlets are worried they will be targeted in Internet attacks that filter content or access to websites, hindering voter access to independent reporting. Most traditional media is owned by interests linked to Barisan Nasional.

"During the 2008 election, we were wiped off the Internet," said Premesh Chandran, chief of the independent online news provider Malaysiakini.

"Our concern is that we'll see a repeat of that on May 5. Can we really live without independent media on election night, given that both sides might not accept the result?"

jlw/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)