Malaysia has announced that its much-anticipated general election will take place on May 5, in what is expected to be a key test for the country's longtime ruling coalition.
An election commission official Wednesday said campaigning for the polls will begin on April 20. Parties have already begun appealing to voters since Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolved parliament last week.
Razak's National Front coalition, which has been in power for 56 years, faces a tough challenge from the three-party coalition led by ex-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
The opposition alliance took an unprecedented number of seats during the 2008 elections that saw the National Front lose its two-thirds majority for the first time.
The ruling coalition has attempted to recover its past levels of popular support by introducing a series of reforms to improve the economy and grant greater civil liberties.
The opposition has accused the government of authoritarianism and corruption. It has pledged to reverse some government policies that favor ethnic Malays.
Over 13 million Malaysians are eligible to vote cast votes in the election, which will fill 222 parliamentary seats and place representatives in 12 state legislatures.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.