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Broad call for ouster of Malaysian PM Najib Razak

Across Malaysia's political spectrum, leaders have appealed for the country's scandal-hit premier to step down. The alliance brings together previously bitter political foes to oust the embattled politician.

Malaysia's 62-year-old prime minister, Najib Razak, faced an unprecedented call to resign Friday as veteran political leaders joined civil society figures to ask him to go.

"We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, political situation, creed or parties, young and old, to join us in saving Malaysia from the government headed by Najib Razak," read a joint statement endorsed by top ruling party figures, opposition leaders and leading civil society groups.

The alliance is composed of previously bitter political foes and was led by 90-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who accused Malaysia's leader of corruption and misrule.

"We must rid ourselves of Najib as prime minister," Mohamad said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Razak has faced sustained pressure to resign since the middle of last year over

deposits into his private accounts worth around $680 million (620 million euros).

He first denied taking the money but then shifted his explanation, saying it was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family.

He still maintains that he has not used the funds for personal gain, and has since been

cleared of any criminal offense or corruption by the country's top prosecutor.
August 29, 2015 protest in Kuala Lumpur.

In August 2015, protesters targeted Najib Razak for alleged corruption. Thousands gathered in Kuala Lumpur for multi-day rallies in the capital

Razak long plagued by corruption scandals

Yet the pressure remains. Amid cascading calls to step down, Razak has counterattacked by curbing multiple investigations and purging his own ruling United Malays National Party (UMNO) of critics in an attempt to shield himself from internal challenges.

Whistle-blowers have been arrested and media outlets reporting on the corruption allegations have been silenced, raising growing concern over the future of rights and freedom of expression.

The joint statement by the anti-Razak alliance lamented the "deteriorating political, economic and social situation in the country."

And ahead of the news conference, the country's jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim offered support to oust Razak. A year ago, Ibrahim was jailed on sodomy charges that he said were concocted by the Razak government to eliminate the threat he posed to its grip on power.

The critics have also called for the removal of those who covered up Razak's crimes and demanded laws violating fundamental rights be repealed, as well as the restoration of institutions it said had been undermined, including the police and anti-corruption agency.

jar/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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