Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister on Thursday following his stunning election victory over the coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for six decades since independence from Britain. Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, Sultan Muhammad V, administered the oath of office in a ceremony carried live on state television from the palace. Mahathir, 92, was dressed in a traditional black “baju melayu” tunic and sarong, with an Islamic cap on his head. He is the oldest elected leader in the world.
Hundreds of Malaysians were lined up on the road leading to the palace, waving party flags and cheering. The Election Commission announced the result long before dawn and there was some consternation in the capital over the time taken to swear in the new prime minister. “There is an urgency here, we need to form the government now, today,” Mahathir told a news conference earlier in the day, where he insisted that he would be sworn in on Thursday. A palace statement earlier dismissed suggestions that the appointment was delayed. “His Majesty strongly supports and respects the democratic process and the wishes of his subjects,” it said.