Parti Keadilan Rakyat nominates Anwar as opposition PM candidate, rejects Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) said yesterday its President Anwar Ibrahim – and not Dr Mahathir Mohamad – should be Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) choice of candidate for the Prime Minister post, if the coalition recaptures Putrajaya.

In a statement issued by its central leadership council and Members of Parliament, the party said it remained open to discussion with all parties, including Dr Mahathir, in their efforts to “save Malaysia” and restore the people’s mandate.

“However, the party has decided not to support the proposal nominating Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister, and holds fast to the PH consensus to nominate Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister,” the statement read.

In thanking the two other PH component parties for consistently supporting Anwar’s candidacy for the premiership, PKR said problems arose when Dr Mahathir sought to return to the position for the third time.

This statement came amid an impasse within PH and its allies over the candidates for the Prime Minister post. A decision on the matter should have been announced on Tuesday, but was delayed as the parties could not reach an agreement.

The three-party PH, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s faction of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) – collectively dubbed ‘PH Plus’ – met last week to discuss the issue.

Democratic Action Party’s organising Secretary Anthony Loke reportedly said Dr Mahathir had offered to be Prime Minister again before handing over the position to Anwar.

However, PKR is not in favour of the proposal, hence the delay in announcing PH’s decision on the matter. The party is cautious of Dr Mahathir’s offer, as he had not committed to a timeline to pass the premiership to Anwar when PH was in power, despite an earlier agreement.

In its statement yesterday, PKR said it would focus its energy and prepare for a snap election that may be called anytime.

“Keadilan is committed to continue strengthening PH and to continue mobilising the energy of all parties who shared the same understanding to restore the people’s mandate in the near future,” the statement read.

The negotiation over the premiership came as PH strategises its moves to return to federal power, following a week-long political tussle that had resulted in a sudden change of government in February.

Muhyiddin Yassin, who is Bersatu president, had pulled the party out of PH and joined forces with United Malays National Organisation and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia to form the new Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.