Malaysia to hold elections after coronavirus ends: PM

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FILE PHOTO: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin poses for a photo in parliament, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 26, 2020. Malaysia’s Department of Public Information / Zarith Zulkifli / Handout via Reuters / File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia will hold a general election when the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday, shortly after avoiding a confrontation by gaining parliamentary support for his administration’s budget.

Parliament passed the biggest budget in history on Thursday by voice vote despite weeks of threats from the opposition and some Muhyiddin allies to derail the government’s 2021 spending plan, which could have sparked a crisis.

“God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election,” Muhyiddin said in a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.

“We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose the government of their choice.”

Eight-month-old Muhyiddin’s administration clung to a two-seat majority in parliament, managing to fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and contain growing dissent within the Malaysian National Coalition Organization.

Muhyiddin said he had met with UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week and that they had agreed to mend the ties between their parties and avoid competing with each other when an election is called.

“I know people are tired of the endless politics. People want political leaders to help them, not to constantly fight for power, ”Muhyiddin said.

Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections, with cumulative cases more than quadrupling since September to more than 60,000 on Friday.

Report by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Robert Birsel

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