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Malaysia's Long-Ruling Coalition Retains Power

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been sworn into office after his coalition won a fiercely contested parliamentary election.

As Mr. Najib took the oath of office Monday, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he would not accept the election results because of what he called "unprecedented" fraud. He called for a rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.

Final results from Sunday's election show Prime Minister Najib Razak's National Front coalition capturing 133 of Malaysia's 222 legislative seats, and 89 for the opposition's three-party alliance. The results show a decrease of several seats for the ruling coalition from the last election.

Although the ruling bloc was able to win the most seats and extend its 56-year rule, it lost the popular vote. It was also the coalition's poorest electoral performance since independence from Britain in 1957.

More than 10 million people cast ballots for a record turnout of about 80 percent.

The United States recognized the election result Monday, calling it the "most competitive" in the country's history. However, a State Department spokesman said Washington is aware of the concerns about voting irregularities and noted that opposition parties faced significant restrictions on access to the media.



The opposition campaign centered on allegations of ruling party arrogance, abuse of public funds and racial discrimination by the government against the country's sizeable ethnic Chinese population.

The opposition retained control of northern Penang state, one of Malaysia's wealthiest territories, and it remained strong in Kuala Lumpur.

Numerous rumors of cheating plagued the polls, including the use of ink to mark voters that critics said could be easily washed off. There also were complaints of foreigners being flown into the country to cast ballots.

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