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Malaysia PM resigns; deputy to assume post

  • Story Highlights
  • Najib Razak to become new prime minister for Malaysia on Friday
  • Abdullah Badawi to step down from PM post
  • Ruling party has failed to secure majority needed to amend constitution
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KUALA LAMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- Malaysia will swear in a new prime minister Friday -- one tasked with reuniting a multi-racial nation and shoring up an economy in dire straits.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, facing, hugs his successor, Najib Razak last week.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, facing, hugs his successor, Najib Razak last week.

Until now, Najib Razak had served as the Southeast Asian country's deputy prime minister. He succeeds Abdullah Badawi who turned in his resignation after five years as leader.

Both are part of Malaysia's ruling party, the National Front Coalition, which has ruled the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.

But last year, a loose coalition of opposition parties won 82 of 222 parliamentary seats in elections. It was only the second time in the country's history that the ruling party failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

The election upset led to calls for Abdullah to step down. Various challenges await Najib:

In recent months, the country has seen riots with the country's ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who accuse the government of passing laws that favor the Malay majority.

Najib has said he will do more to address their concerns.

The country, like other nations around the world, has been severely affected by the global economic downturn. Critics are demanding Malaysia diversify its technology-heavy economy.

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Last month, Najib unveiled a multi-billion dollar stimulus plan for new spending, according to published reports.

Najib also brings with him a whiff of controversy. Two former bodyguards are facing charges in connection the murder of a Mongolian model. He has denied all links to the killing.

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