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Malaysian Cabinet Shake-Up Expected - 2004-03-23

Fresh from a landslide election victory, Malaysia's prime minister is expected to restructure the cabinet over the next several days to make it his own.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who was sworn in Monday, says he will announce the new cabinet next week. His National Front coalition won 90 percent of the parliament seats in Sunday's election, and analysts predict he will use that mandate to make significant changes in the cabinet.

Mr. Abdullah ran on an anti-corruption platform, and his victory is widely seen as a mandate to end graft in government.

The big loser in Sunday's election was the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, known as PAS, which lost more than 70 percent of its seats. Hundreds of PAS supporters protested outside the nation's human rights commission Tuesday, claiming the election was rigged and demanding action.

Opposition leaders blame their poor showing on a too-short campaign that lasted just eight days, and on their lack of access to the government-controlled news media. They also allege voting irregularities.

Mr. Abdullah became prime minister last October when his predecessor, Mahathir Mohammed, retired after 22 years in power.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.