Malaysian PM calls for snap elections
Although the elections were not scheduled until September of the following year, Ismail is under intense pressure from within his party to dissolve parliament and secure a strong mandate in early elections.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament on Monday, paving the way for snap elections as the country recovers from the effects of Covid-19 and a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal. After Yaakob's announcement, elections could be held within weeks.
Although the elections were not scheduled until September of the following year, Ismail was under intense pressure from within his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party to dissolve parliament and secure a strong mandate in early elections as the party enjoyed only a slim majority in the recently disbanded parliament.
"Yesterday I met the king ... and I sought his permission to dissolve the parliament. And the king agreed to my request to dissolve parliament today," Ismail said in a televised address to the nation following his audience with the Malaysian monarch Sultan Abdullah.
"I hope the people will use their votes wisely to vote for stability, economic growth and harmony in the country," he said, referring to the mainly Muslim but multi-racial Southeast Asian nation.
The election date has not been set, but under the constitution, polls must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.
The dissolution occurred just days after the government unveiled a populist budget that included billions of dollars in cash handouts and a reduction in personal income taxes.
Malaysia has been in political turmoil since the last national elections in 2018, when a reformist alliance led by ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad defeated an alliance led by UMNO, the country's main party for more than 60 years.
Then-PM Najib Razak was ousted after being embroiled in a scandal in which billions of dollars were allegedly looted from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.
Following a lengthy trial, he was found guilty of corruption and began serving a 12-year prison sentence in August for the first set of charges. He faces new charges that could keep him in jail for a longer period of time.
However, hopes for stability following Najib's removal faded quickly, as Mahathir's government collapsed after 22 months due to bitter infighting.
Muhyiddin Yassin, his former right-hand man, succeeded him, but growing public outrage over his handling of the pandemic forced him to resign less than two years later, and Ismail was named Malaysia's new leader.
After signing a truce with the country's opposition, Ismail's rule has been relatively peaceful, allowing the government to focus on recovery from the pandemic.