Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, who led the ruling National Front coalition to a historic loss in a national election Wednesday, has conceded defeat.
At a televised press conference, Najib said, “I and my colleagues accept the verdict of the people.”
He said the National Front “will honor the principle of democracy in the parliament.”
Opposition parties, led by Malaysia’s former authoritarian leader Mahathir Mohamad, tapped into anger over a corruption scandal and a new tax to end the National Front’s 60-year hold on power.
Because no single party won a majority in the election, Najib said the country’s king will have responsibility for appointing the next prime minister.
“The national front will respect whatever decision is made by the king,” he said. “I urge all Malaysians to be calm and to trust the king’s wisdom to make the best choice.”
Earlier, supporters of Malaysia’s new government took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate their unexpected election victory.
People stood on roadsides waving the white, blue and red flag of the opposition alliance that triumphed in Wednesday’s national election. Cars honked their horns as they sped past.
One woman waving the opposition flag said she hoped “We’ll have a better Malaysia now. Malaysia reborn!”
Malaysian voters were angered by a corruption scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak and new taxes. The victory by the alliance led by former authoritarian leader Mahathir Mohamad ends the ruling National Front’s 60-year-old on power.