Malaysian prime minister to make way for deputy

September 27th, 2008 - 12:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 27 (IANS) Weakened after the March poll debacle when the ruling alliance’s majority was reduced drastically, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will hand over power to his deputy Najib Tun Razak earlier than June 2010 as planned earlier, according to an official announcement.His party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has also postponed its annual general assembly and supreme council elections to next March to facilitate the “early transition of power”, Badawi said after chairing a special supreme council meeting Friday.

He added that he would decide by Oct 9 whether to defend his post.

No date was mentioned, and the decision was taken at a private meeting, The Star newspaper said Saturday.

The prime minister survived a serious scare earlier this month from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who claimed to have won over enough lawmakers from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional to reduce the Badawi government to a minority.

However, since parliament was not in session, Ibrahim did not get to prove his claim.

Badawi, 69, making way for Razak has been in the air for the past many weeks.

He also heads the Barisan and the UMNO, the principal party in the coalition that represents the majority Malays. There have been demands from within the UMNO that he pass on the party leadership to someone else.

Badawi succeeded long-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in December 2003, being his personal choice. However, Mahathir has been among his constant critics.

Badawi opted for early polls this year after about four years in office. But his party and the Barisan National for the first time lost their two-thirds majority advantage in parliament and control of five of the 13 states.

The poll results have also marked the return of Ibrahim, who was sacked by Mahathir a decade back. Ibrahim also won a parliamentary by-election last month.

A soft-spoken politician, Badawi married again last year.

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