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Malaysia's Mahathir claims election win as count swings against government

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Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad said the opposition alliance he leads had won enough parliament seats in Wednesday's general election to form the next government, but the count was continuing and official results so far did not back his claim.

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad said the opposition alliance he leads had won enough parliament seats in Wednesday's general election to form the next government, but the count was continuing and official results so far did not back his claim.

The Election Commission sought to tamp down speculation about the outcome, but thousands of supporters of the Southeast Asian country's 92-year-old former leader did not wait to celebrate, cheering and honking horns in central Kuala Lumpur.

Several key roads in the heart of the capital were blocked off by police amid growing evidence that Prime Minister Najib Razak's coalition was on the back foot and could lose power for the first time since Malaysia's independence six decades ago.

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His party postponed an evening news conference until Thursday morning and said Mr Najib, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country for nearly 10 years, would address the media at 11:00 (0300 GMT) on Thursday.

The Election Commission said some results that had gone "viral" were unofficial and had not been verified.

"Of course, political parties can declare whoever (they believe has won), but ... please wait," commission Chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah told reporters shortly after midnight. "We would like to announce it as quickly as possible as well."

Official results showed that, so far, Mahathir's Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) had won 90 of parliament's 222 seats and Mr Najib's ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), had won 69.

A simple majority of 112 seats is required by a party or alliance to rule, a number Mahathir said his party believed it had won.

"The likelihood is that they will not be forming the government," he told reporters, referring to Mr Najib's coalition.

REUTERS