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Tags: Malaysia | Politics

Malaysia's Mahathir Says Parliament to Select New PM

Malaysia's Mahathir Says Parliament to Select New PM

Thursday, 27 February 2020 05:38 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian interim leader Mahathir Mohamad says Parliament will meet next Monday to select a new prime minister after the king failed to establish who has majority support. He says snap elections will be called if there is an impasse in Parliament. A failed bid by Mahathir's supporters to form a new government without his designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim, has plunged the country into political limbo.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS DEVELOPMENT. AP's earlier story is below:

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad held an audience with the nation's king on Thursday, fueling talks he may have the majority support to return as prime minister after his abrupt resignation and the collapse of his ruling coalition this week.

Mahathir was summoned to the palace in the morning and left an hour later. He didn't speak to reporters. The meeting came after the king interviewed lawmakers to determine who they support as prime minister and if they want fresh elections.

A comeback as prime minister for a third time would be a remarkable feat for Mahathir, the world's oldest leader at 94, after nail-biting twists, turns and machinations in the political drama that unraveled over the weekend. A failed bid by Mahathir's supporters to form a new government without his named successor, Anwar Ibrahim, plunged the country into political limbo.

A total of 37 lawmakers, led by Mahathir's Bersatu party, left the ruling alliance, depriving it of majority support and sparking a crisis less than two years after it ousted a corrupt-tainted coalition that had ruled for 61 years. The king dissolved the Cabinet but reappointed Mahathir as interim leader.

The result has been a renewed battle between Mahathir and Anwar, whose political feud has stretched more than two decades.

Mahathir said Wednesday that he had quit to show he wasn't power crazy and because he didn't want to work with the former corrupt regime that he had ousted in 2018 polls. Despite a preelection pact to hand over power to Anwar, Mahathir said Parliament should pick the next leader and that he would form a nonpartisan government if he was chosen again to helm the government.

“I just want to do what is best for the country," Mahathir said in a televised message.

“I believe, rightly or wrongly, politics and political parties must be set aside for now,” he added. "If allowed, I will form an administration that does not side with any party. Only national interest will be prioritized,"

His unity government plan was rejected by Anwar's camp, which said it would only create a “Mahathir government” that was not accountable to the people and was unsustainable.

Anwar said lawmakers from the three remaining parties in his alliance had nominated him to be prime minister after Mahathir rejected their offer to restore their former government. He said they will wait for the king's decision.

Anwar's camp still controls 41% of parliamentary seats but could be the largest bloc after two key Malay opposition parties withdrew their support for Mahathir.

Anwar was Mahathir's deputy during Mahathir's first stint in office in the 1990s, but he was sacked following a power struggle and later jailed on sodomy and corruption charges that he said were trumped up. Anwar led a reform movement that helped build a fledgling opposition but was jailed a second time for sodomy in 2014 in a move he said was aimed at killing his political career.

Mahathir, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, made a comeback in 2016, spurred by anger over a massive graft scandal involving a state investment fund. Mahathir and Anwar reconciled and forged an alliance that won the 2018 vote that ushered in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. But their relationship remained uneasy as Mahathir refused to set a time frame to hand over power to Anwar.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


GlobalTalk
Malaysian interim leader Mahathir Mohamad says Parliament will meet next Monday to select a new prime minister after the king failed to establish who has majority support. He says snap elections will be called if there is an impasse in Parliament. A failed bid by Mahathir's...
Malaysia,Politics
642
2020-38-27
Thursday, 27 February 2020 05:38 AM
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