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Malaysia's Ex-Leader Najib Razak Quits Party After Election Loss

12 May 2018 8:32 am
By James Hookway 

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's former Prime Minister Najib Razak resigned as leader of his political party Saturday and promised to abide by a travel a ban issued to him and his wife.

Mr. Najib and the United Malays National Organization suffered a devastating loss in national elections Wednesday, paving the way for the first transfer of power in the tropical, resource-rich nation since independence in 1957.

His successor Mahathir Mohamad, who is 92 and led the country for 22 years before stepping down in 2003, built much of his campaign on allegations that Mr. Najib has siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from a state investment fund that is at the center of probes in several countries.

U.S. authorities allege that at least $4.5 billion was misappropriated between 2009 and 2015, including $681 million allegedly received by Mr. Najib, whom lawsuits in the U.S. referred to as "Malaysian Official 1." Mr. Najib and the fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., have denied wrongdoing, and Malaysian investigations carried out during Mr. Najib's premiership have cleared him.

Mr. Mahathir has said he would reopen an investigation into the scandal. On Saturday, Malaysia's immigration chief said Mr. Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor had been banned from leaving the country, confirming an earlier Wall Street Journal report that the new administration would take measure to prevent the couple leaving.

Mr. Najib acknowledged the travel ban and promised to stay within the country. Later, at a press conference at UMNO's headquarters, he announced he was stepping down. Flanked by deputies and wearing a powder-blue jacked, he said that the party lost the election because it lost what he called "the battle of perception" with the opposition.

Write to James Hookway at james.hookway@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2018 04:32 ET (08:32 GMT)

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