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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 15:30 UK

Malaysian court deals blow to PM

A protester is arrested outside the Perak state assembly in Ipoh, Malaysia  (7 May)
The struggle for control of Perak has drawn street protests and arrests

Malaysia's high court has announced that the ruling coalition's takeover of a state government was illegal, and handed power back to the opposition.

The ruling is an embarrassing defeat for new Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The court said the opposition People's Alliance should have been allowed to hold a no-confidence vote when it lost its parliamentary majority in February.

Perak state has become the focus of a power struggle between Malaysia's ruling party and the People's Alliance.

The state's reinstalled chief minister, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, is expected to call for fresh state elections.

Rare dressing down

The opposition lost its majority when three legislators defected to become independents earlier this year - handing control to the ruling National Front coalition.

Najib Razak is alleged to have orchestrated the takeover of the state government, just weeks before he assumed his post.

The BBC's Robin Brant in Kuala Lumpur says the opposition will feel vindicated by the ruling - but for Malaysia's new prime minister this is a rare dressing down from the judiciary.

The prime minister said his government would appeal against the court ruling.



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