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Malaysia pushes for two-term limit for prime ministers

Malaysia pushes for two-term limit for prime ministers
FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng -
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Lim Huey Teng(Reuters)
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KUALALUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s government on Tuesday tabled a parliamentary bill seeking to set a two-term limit for the premiership, as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s administration seeks to fulfil an election pledge aimed at preventing potential abuses of power.

Last May, Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition won a shock election victory on the back of popular anger over high living costs and perceptions of rampant corruption, particularly allegations that billions of dollars were plundered from state fund 1MDB that was founded by former premier Najib Razak.

The bill seeks to amend the federal constitution to specify a maximum of two terms for a prime minister, and would require support from two-thirds of the 222 elected members of parliament to pass.

It is scheduled to be debated in March next year.

The constitutional amendment was among a raft of election pledges that Mahathir’s coalition made, aiming to root out corruption and limit the powers of the prime minister.

Najib, who held power for nearly three terms, faces dozens of graft and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about $1 billion in funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Mahathir, who is in his second stint as prime minister, holds the record for Malaysia’s longest-serving premier at 22 years after first holding the post from 1981 until 2003.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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