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Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun during press conference Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative: Strengthening Electoral Democracy in Commonwealth Asia training programme.-BERNAMA
Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun during press conference Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative: Strengthening Electoral Democracy in Commonwealth Asia training programme.-BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission (EC) has begun preparations for the Sarawak state election, rumoured to be held as early as next year.

Its chairman, Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, stressed that they have no indication as to when the polls will be called.

Nevertheless, the commission is preparing to face any eventuality, including the election being called in the first half of 2020, he said.

“We are prepared. Having that said, the EC does not know when the next state election (will be held).

“However, EC secretary Datuk Mohamed Elias Abu Bakar has been going to the ground to prepare for any possibility,” he told reporters after attending the Commonwealth Election Professionals (CEP) Initiative: Strengthening Electoral Democracy in Commonwealth Asia training programme here, today.

Although the mandate for the current Sarawak government will only expire in June 2021, rumours suggest that the next state polls will be called next year.

In the last state election which concluded on May 7, 2016, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which was then a political ally of Barisan Nasional (BN), won 72 out of 81 state seats.

The EC was allocated RM11.75 million for the Sarawak election under the 2020 Budget.

Meanwhile, on other matters, Azhar dismissed claims that the EC is refusing to cooperate in a trial involving the Kimanis parliamentary constituency.

“The Commission will be represented (at the trial) and we will inform the court of what transpired in Kimanis during the 14th general election (GE14),” he said.

On Aug 16, the Election Court in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, declared Datuk Seri Anifah Aman's win in Kimanis in the GE14 “null and void”.

This was after the Court found serious irregularities in the election process by the EC.

The results for the Kimanis poll were challenged by Parti Warisan Sabah candidate Datuk Karim Bujang, who had contested the seat.

Anifah, who was Foreign Minister during the previous Barisan Nasional administration, has since filed an appeal over the ruling, which is expected to be heard at the Federal Court in Putrajaya on Nov 2.

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