Mahathir Mohamad, 92 years old, who ruled Malaysia with an iron fist from 1981 to 2003, is set to become the oldest elected leader in the world.
His alliance of four parties beat trounced the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was once Mahathir’s protege but became his most bitter rival. Najib is 64 years old.
It was an electoral upset, but not unexpected, over the coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for six decades since independence from Britain.
“There is an urgency here, we need to form the government now, today,” Mahathir told a news conference, where he insisted that he would be sworn in as prime minister later on Thursday.
Malaysia’s constitutional monarch has granted Mahathir an audience at 5:00 p.m. (0900 GMT), a leader from his Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) told Reuters.
Earlier on Thursday, Najib appeared to raise doubts that Mahathir would immediately take office because no single party had won a simple majority of seats in the 222-member parliament, and it would be up to the monarch to decide.
Official results showed that Mahathir’s coalition won 113 seats, one more than the number required to rule. But it has not been formally registered as an alliance.