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Malaysian Ex-PM, 92, Stuns World by Returning to Power

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Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate for Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), attends a news conference after the general election, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, May 9, 2018.

The 92-year-old former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has stunned the world by emerging from retirement to win Wednesday's parliamentary election.

Mahathir and his coalition of opposition parties, called the Alliance of Hope, have toppled the National Front coalition — the party that ruled Malaysia since it became independent in 1957.

The Alliance of Hope is expected to finish with 115 parliamentary seats to the National Front's 79 seats.

Opposition party supporters display a Malaysia national flag after Mahathir Mohamad claims the opposition party wins the General Election, broadcast on a large screen at a field in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 9, 2018.
Opposition party supporters display a Malaysia national flag after Mahathir Mohamad claims the opposition party wins the General Election, broadcast on a large screen at a field in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 9, 2018.

Experts had expected the National Front to lose the popular vote but still keep control of parliament after it redrew the country's electoral map.

Outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak has been dogged by the imposition of a sales tax that mainly affects the rural poor, and a corruption scandal in which billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from a state-owned investment fund he oversaw.

Najib denies any wrongdoing. Mahathir has said he is not seeking "revenge" against his political opponents, but promised to restore law and order.

Mahathir ruled Malaysia between 1981 and 2003. He is credited with building a thriving economy in Malaysia. However, many Malaysians still have a sour taste in their mouths over what they said was his harsh treatment of political opponents and stifling of free speech.

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