POLITICS

New Malaysian Prime Minister Oldest Leader In The World

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New Malaysian Prime Minister Oldest Leader In The World

Veteran Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad has become the world's oldest leader after a shock victory in the country's election, upending six decades of control by the ruling coalition.

The 92-year-old was sworn in on Thursday night by Malaysia's constitutional ruler, King Muhammad V, following a momentous vote in which scandal-plagued incumbent Najib Razak was soundly beaten at the polls by his former mentor, report the BBC and CNN.

It's a triumphant return to front-line Malaysian politics for Prime Minister Mahathir, who also ruled the country from 1981 until 2003. His historic win ousted the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has been in power since independence in 1957.

Najib said earlier he would "accept the verdict of the people" but correspondents say a smooth transition to power is not a given after such a major political upheaval. He was sworn in by the Malaysian head of state at about 9:50 p.m. (9.50 a.m. ET). It followed a day of confusion over the status of Malaysia's new government, with various times announced and then missed for Mahathir's official appointment.

No single party within the coalition won a majority, so technically it fell to Malaysia's king to decide who formed a government.

His car was seen driving into the palace ahead of a possible 5 p.m. meeting, only to drive out again without a word an hour and a half later.

But in a press statement issued on Thursday night, the palace said it had invited Mahathir to form a government and "strongly" denied the king had delayed the appointment.

Image credit: Reuters