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Nomination day on Feb 24, polling day on March 8

KUALA LUMPUR: It will be the longest official campaign period in 26 years. Nomination day will be on Feb 24 and polling day on March 8.

Parties from both the Barisan Nasional and the opposition were generally taken by surprise at the length of time because the last one in 2004 was just nine days.

Although none will publicly admit it, most are apparently ill-prepared for such a long campaign period.

Although campaigning can officially start after nomination day, the effective campaign period will be 23 days because most parties started their programmes yesterday, if not earlier.

Barisan deputy chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the period would give all political parties ample opportunity to campaign effectively.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang thanked the Election Commission for the longer period.

In the contentious 1969 elections, the campaign period stretched over 34 days, while in 1974 it was 16. Eight years later (in 1982) campaigning was reduced to 15 days, and in subsequent polls shrank further, to 10 days.

In the tumultuous 1999 elections, only nine days were given.

Other highlights of yesterday’s run-up to the general election:

  • Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Barisan’s seat-sharing formula remains unchanged.

  • The opposition parties unveil how they distributed seats among themselves.

  • Two ministers confirm they are retiring.

  • Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon says he will reveal next week the seat he will contest.
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