Malaysia's Election Commission has announced April 20 as polling day for the country's general election.

While political parties have been actively lobbying in their electorates, today's announcement marks the official start of formal campaigning.

The election pits the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Election Commission deputy chair, Dato Wan Ahmad Wan Omar rejected Opposition claims that the ruling Barisan Nasional wields influence over the EC, as his office was appointed by the government.

Dato Wan Ahmad told Asia Pacific Malaysia's Election Commission made sure both the BN government and the Opposition were involved in drawing up the rules.