KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad lost a power struggle Saturday with a little-known ex-interior minister to be the country’s new prime minister in a shock twist that will return a scandal-plagued party to power.
Muhyiddin Yassin will be sworn in on Sunday, royal officials said, after a week of turmoil that followed the collapse of a reformist government and Mahathir’s resignation as premier.
“The process to appoint the prime minister cannot be delayed because the country needs a government for the well-being of the people and the nation,” a palace statement said. The king appoints the premier, and rival candidates had this week been seeking to show they commanded majority support from MPs.
As well as ending the premiership of Mahathir, at 94 the world’s oldest leader, it means there will be little hope of his designated successor Anwar Ibrahim becoming prime minister.
Muhyiddin’s coalition is dominated by the multi-ethnic country’s Muslim majority, and includes the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the scandal-plagued party of disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak.
UMNO was the lynchpin of a long-ruling coalition toppled from power at historic elections in 2018 amid allegations Najib and his cronies looted state fund 1MDB.
Muhyiddin, a former Mahathir ally, had joined forces with UMNO in a bid to win power. His coalition also includes a hardline Muslim party that is pushing for Islamic laws.
More details on Borneo Bulletin Sunday