KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians went to the polls Wednesday in one of the country´s closest ever elections which pits scandal-hit Prime Minister Najib Razak against his one-time mentor, 92-year-old former authoritarian leader Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib is seeking to retain power at the head of a regime that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957, but veteran ex-leader Mahathir´s shock comeback has upended the election race.
Angered by a massive financial scandal that has tarnished Malaysia´s international image, Mahathir has teamed up with an alliance of parties that opposed him when he was in power, and which includes jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim — his former nemesis.
Najib´s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is seen as likely to win due to an electoral system that critics say is heavily stacked in their favour, but analysts predict the government will lose the popular vote for the second consecutive election.
Critics have accused BN of gerrymandering with a redrawing of electoral boundaries that created constituencies more likely to back them, while activists have alleged irregularities in the electoral roll, including dead people appearing on the list.