Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday announced that the opposition alliance he now leads would contest the coming general election under the logo of the party of his former political nemesis, Anwar Ibrahim.
Mahathir, 92, is the opposition’s prime minister-candidate to depose his former protege Prime Minister Najib Razak and the undefeated Barisan Nasional coalition, in what could be the most tightly-contested polls since the country’s independence in 1957.
The former prime minister has joined hands with his former deputy and opposition leader, Anwar, who is in jail, ending a feud that had shaped the country’s politics over two decades.
Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition applied last year to register another logo, but said it received no response from authorities. He said that had been one of the many moves by Najib to slow the opposition’s momentum.
But the logo of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, featuring two crescent moons, has been officially recognized for several years.
“I am very happy, something that may not have been possible in the past has been done by all of us now,” Mahathir told a crowd of over 3,000 at an opposition rally in the southern state of Johor.
“In the 14th general election, all four parties … will use one symbol, that is the symbol of Keadilan,” Mahathir said, referring to the adopted logo.
Mahathir’s announcement comes two days after his nascent political outfit, Parti Pribumi Bumiputera Malaysia, was temporarily deregistered for failing to meet a 30-day deadline to hand over paperwork proving the party had complied with registration requirements.
Prime Minister Najib announced on Friday that parliament would be dissolved on Saturday, paving the way for a general election.
No date for the election has yet been announced, but it must be held within 60 days of the dissolution.
Najib is under pressure to deliver an emphatic win for his undefeated Barisan Nasional coalition, as he struggles to appease Malaysians unhappy with rising costs and a multi-billion dollar scandal at a state fund he founded.
Mahathir turned on Najib after it was revealed in 2015 that $681 million allegedly from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had found its way into his former protege’s personal accounts.
More than six countries are investigating alleged misappropriation of funds linked to 1MDB. Najib has denied all wrongdoing.