Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he will challenge the result of Malaysia’s election, which was won by the ruling National Front early Monday, although analysts says it is unlikely to affect the outcome.
The Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) won 133 parliamentary seats out of the 222 being contested, while the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR, People’s Alliance) won just 89 seats.
National Front leader and Prime Minister Najib Razak was sworn in for his second term by Malaysia’s king in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Anwar said that he would consult other members of his coalition before deciding what action to take, likely to involve petitions to the Malaysian Election Commission to probe voting irregularities.
A number of claims were made against the ruling National Front including plans to charter flights for tens of thousands of foreigners to vote in marginal electorates, phantom ballots, sightings of mysterious buses and indelible voting ink that turned out to be washable.
The National Front has said that chartered flights from the island of Borneo to Kuala Lumpur were taking place but that they were registered voters being flown home by supporters of the government.
“These elections have been stolen from us by Umno-BN [National Front]. As far as I am concerned, we have won this election,” Anwar told local news site Malaysiakini.
(READ MORE: US recognizes Malaysia vote despite concerns)
In a separate development Malaysia’s Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) said it would be withholding recognition of the new government until all reports of voter fraud had been investigated.
Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said the group would set up its own tribunal, run by election experts, in the next week.
“The EC has failed to ensure a clean, free and fair election process. The entire commission should resign unless they can provide evidence to prove otherwise,” she said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
“We have received many reports of electoral fraud in the GE13 [general election]. Until a fact-finding mission is completed, we are withholding recognition of the new government.”
The group also called for a boycott of Malaysia’s state-run media which it accused of “aiding and abetting the uneven playing field”.
Analysts say that any post mortem into voting irregularities is unlikely to affect the poll result.
“There probably were voting irregularities, as they are in all elections, but just going from the numbers and the voter turnout, I don’t think it will affect the result,” said Sumana Rajarethnam, senior Asia analyst at the Singapore-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
“For Bersih, if they have specific incidents to report, then they are fulfilling their role as election watchdog. Their good work over the last few years probably contributed to a fairer election.”