Mahathir’s alliance, which counts on urban votes and support from the minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, had hoped the veteran Malay leader would win over voters usually loyal to BN. That strategy appeared to have paid off.

Official results showed that Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) won 113 of parliament’s 222 seats, clinching the simple majority required to rule. Najib’s BN coalition only
managed 79 seats.

Mahathir has promised to reverse a goods and services tax (GST) introduced by Najib during his first 100 days in power and review foreign investments.

Global ratings agency Moody’s said some of his campaign promises, including the GST and a reintroduction of fuel subsidies, could be credit negative for Malaysia’s sovereign debt rating.

Mahathir was once Najib’s mentor but they clashed after differences over the 1MDB graft scandal, in which billions of dollars were allegedly siphoned off to foreign countries.

The scandal is being investigated by at least six countries, although Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Najib of any wrongdoing.

Mahathir vowed to investigate the scandal if elected and to bring the funds back to Malaysia.

Asked on Thursday if Najib would be prosecuted, Mahathir said: “If anybody breaks the law, and that includes a journalist, they will be brought before the court.”

Mahathir must now manage a fractious alliance of four parties and make way for jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to become the next prime minister, another former protege with whom he split acrimoniously before reuniting to topple Najib.

“I have to manage presidents of four different parties. It’s going to be a headache,” Mahathir told reporters.

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