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Tags: Malaysia | Politics

Malay Rulers to Meet as Malaysia's Political Tumult Deepens

Malay Rulers to Meet as Malaysia's Political Tumult Deepens

Thursday, 27 February 2020 10:38 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's nine ethnic Malay rulers are due to hold a special meeting Friday to help resolve a political wrangle over the premiership after the ruling alliance collapsed this week.

The turmoil deepened after rival parties challenged interim leader Mahathir Mohamad's announcement that the lower house of Parliament will meet Monday to vote for a new leader and that snap elections will be called if it ends in an impasse.

Mahathir said King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has failed to find a candidate with majority support after consulting lawmakers.

But his former ruling alliance led by rival Anwar Ibrahim and other political parties said only the king has the power to appoint the prime minister under the constitution. They also said Mahathir had jumped the gun ahead of an official announcement from the palace and the Conference of Rulers meeting.

Local media said the Conference of Rulers, comprising nine hereditary Malay rulers, will meet at the palace before Friday prayers to discuss the matter.

A failed bid by Mahathir's supporters to form a new government without his designated successor, Anwar, and Mahathir's shock resignation on Monday broke apart the ruling alliance less than two years after it defeated a corruption-tainted coalition that had led the country for 61 years.

Both Mahathir and Anwar are vying for the premiership, reviving their two decades-old political feud. All sides are waiting for a formal decision by the palace to clear the impasse.

The nine rulers are seen as guardians of Islam and Malay traditions and have a big sway among Malay Muslims, who account for 60% of Malaysia’s 32 million people. They elect one among themselves to be Malaysia's king under the world's only rotating monarchy system. The king's role is largely ceremonial but his approval is needed to pass bills, appoint the prime minister and dissolve Parliament for general elections.

Mahathir, 94, who is seeking to form a nonpartisan government if chosen as premier for a third time, has a rocky relationship with the royals after stripping the sultans of their power to veto legislation and removing their legal immunity during his first stint as premier, which lasted 22 years until 2003.

Anwar's camp and other opposition parties have rejected Mahathir's unity government plan, which they said would only create a “Mahathir government” that was not accountable to the people and was unsustainable.

Once a high-flying member in the ruling coalition, Anwar was sacked and later jailed for sodomy and abuse of power after a power struggle with Mahathir in the 1990s. Anwar led a reform movement that helped build a fledgling opposition but jailed a second time in 2014 for sodomy charges that he said were trumped up.

Mahathir, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, reconciled with Anwar amid anger over a massive graft scandal involving a state investment fund. They forged an alliance that won the 2018 election, ushering in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957.

The current political crisis was sparked in part by Mahathir's refusal to set a time frame to hand over power to Anwar as agreed under their election pact. His Bersatu abandoned the alliance in a bid to form a new government with several opposition parties but it flopped after Mahathir quit in protest of the plan to work with the former corrupt regime that he ousted in the 2018 polls.

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


GlobalTalk
Malaysia's nine ethnic Malay rulers are due to hold a special meeting Friday to help resolve a political wrangle over the premiership after the ruling alliance collapsed this week.The turmoil deepened after rival parties challenged interim leader Mahathir Mohamad's...
Malaysia,Politics
568
2020-38-27
Thursday, 27 February 2020 10:38 PM
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