Thursday, 6 February, 2003

Malaysian PM rules out early elections

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has ended months of speculation by announcing that he will not call a general election before his planned retirement in October.

Dr Mahathir said the timing of the election will be decided by his successor, the Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi.

It had been widely expected that Dr Mahathir would set the date then use his campaigning experience to help his successor secure victory.

A BBC correspondent in Malaysia says the delay will give Abdullah Badawi the chance to establish his authority and to prepare the campaign of his UNMO party - which leads the government coalition - against the Islamist opposition.

The government has until late next year to call a general election.