Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian authorities ordered former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's political party to temporarily disband on Thursday in a blow to the opposition ahead of an expected general election.
The Registrar of Societies said the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia failed to submit adequate documentation for its registration and asked it to do so within a month or be permanently deregistered.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia, has had his political party deregistered . Photo: Fadza Ishak
Elections are due by August but Prime Minister Najib Razak is widely expected to dissolve Parliament on Friday to pave the way for a vote next month. Support for Najib's ruling coalition has dwindled in the last two elections, and in 2013 it lost the popular vote for the first time.
Mahathir, Asia's longest serving leader for 22 years when he retired in 2003, called Thursday's order "tyranny" and unconstitutional. He said the party was being targeted despite explaining to the registrar that it didn't have certain documents yet as it was less than two years old.
Mahathir, 92, said the party will appeal to the home minister, and if it is unsuccessful, it will file a legal suit challenging the order. He also said the party can still function because the registrar has no legal power to stop its activities.
"We will tell the whole world that ROS is in breach of the law. There is no rule of law and Najib is cheating to win the elections by terrorizing his opponents," he told a late-night news conference after a party meeting. "Whatever happens to us, we are going to contest ... no way are they going to stop us from contesting."
Mahathir, who also heads a four-party opposition alliance, said it will make a key announcement Friday on how it plans to contest as a united front.
Pribumi party official Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the registrar's move was "an abuse of power by a regime that is desperate to stay in office".