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Monday April 24, 2006

Sarawak state polls set for May 20


KUCHING: The nomination day for the Sarawak state elections has been fixed for May 9, the Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman announced today. 

Polling day has been fixed for May 20 - giving parties 11 day to campaign. 

Rashid's announcement comes just hours after Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud make known at a Press conference that the Yang Dipertua Negeri, Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, had agreed to dissolve the assembly today. 

The current mandate of the assembly extends to Nov 18. 

There are 71 seats to be contested this time - an increase of nine seats following the redelineation exercise in 2001. 

The new seats are Opar, Bukit Sentosa, Lingga, Balai Ringin, Bukit Saban, Daro, Bekenu, Pujut and Batu Danau. 

Based on the electoral roll gazetted last month, Sarawak has 892,537 voters. 

Taib told reporters that about one-fifth of the Barisan Nasional’s 71 candidates for the state elections will be new faces. 

“I am aiming for 20% of the candidates to be new faces,” he added. 

The state coalition held 61 out of 62 in the state assembly before its dissolution. Nine new seats will be contested this time.

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