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Crowd gathers at Malaysia airport after ousted PM Najib announces 'short break'

Crowd gathers at Malaysia airport after ousted PM Najib announces 'short break'

Asked Thursday if he would pursue a corruption investigation into Najib, Mahathir Mohamad - who defeated Najib in Wednesday's vote - said the former leader would be subject to the rule of law.

His holiday plans fueled rumors he had been visiting the country to flee potential prosecution over a very big corruption scandal but Najib denied that.

"I have taken the decision to step down as president of UMNO and chairman of Barisan Nasional immediately", Najib told a press conference on Saturday.

Najib denies any wrongdoing and says that he did not take any money from state funds.

His holiday plans come as calls emerged from his judgment Malay party for Najib to measure down over the election success.

However, it was soon followed by a tweet saying that he had been informed that the immigration department of Malaysia doesn't allow him to leave the country.

At least six countries, including the United States, are investigating the alleged misappropriation of over $4.5 billion from 1MDB, founded by former premier Najib Razak.

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The ceremony before Malaysia's king at the official state palace in Kuala Lumpur ended a day of uncertainty during which rumors swirled that the National Front, Malaysia's perennial ruling party, would try to stay in power. He is 92 years old, making him the world's oldest elected leader, according to the BBC.

After the reports of his flight emerged on Friday night, dozens of people, accompanied by a large pack of journalists, had descended on the small airport just outside the capital in the early hours to protest his departure.

After being sworn in as new prime minister, Dr Mahathir said he would seek the return of millions of dollars lost in the scandal.

The setting up of the advisory council underlines Mahathir's preference for old hands and his focus on 1MDB, on which he said there was enough evidence to reopen a probe. Mahathir has said that if Najib were found to do something wrong, "he will have to face the consequences". I apologize for any shortcomings and mistakes, and I thank you, the people, for the opportunity to lead our great nation.

The scandal has dogged Najib since 2015 after reports that about $700 million in misappropriated 1MDB funds flowed into his personal account.

Filings by the US Justice Department in a civil lawsuit indicated almost $30 million of the money stolen was used to buy jewellery for the prime minister's wife, Rosmah, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace.

The lawmaker said a key reason for declaring the public holidays was so that Mahathir could announce key ministerial positions and name the new adviser before trading started on Monday in an effort to reassure global investors that his government was off to a solid start.