Malaysia’s “Voting day is on May 9,” commission chairman Mohamad Hashim Abdullah told a press conference. There will be an 11-day campaign period before the election.
Victory is however less certain due to the comeback of Mahathir, 92, who has turned on his former protege Najib over the 1MDB scandal.
In a stunning volte-face, he was named the prime ministerial candidate in the opposition coalition Pact of Hope, which is filled with parties he crushed during his 22 years in power.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition´s popularity has been sliding in recent years and its problems have been worsened by a multi billion-dollar scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB, but Najib is still tipped to win due to BN´s firm grip on power.
He is under pressure from allies in his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main coalition party, to score an emphatic victory after the government lost the popular vote for the first time at the last election in 2013.
Voters had become increasingly disillusioned over recurring graft scandals, divisive racial politics in the multi-ethnic country, and the rising cost of living.
The 1MDB scandal has only added to Najib´s woes.
Billions of dollars were allegedly looted from the fund in an audacious campaign of fraud and money-laundering which is being investigated in several countries, and it is claimed that large sums ended up the personal bank accounts of Najib.
Najib, who has been prime minister since 2009, and the fund deny any wrongdoing.