Publish: 29 Feb 2020, 02:41 pm
Malaysia's interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he is back as PM candidate with the numerical support among lawmakers to form the next government.
In a statement issued today, Mahathir, 94, announced that he is "prepared to stand as a prospective candidate for Prime Minister".
"This morning I had a meeting with leaders of Pakatan Harapan. I am now confident that I have the numbers needed to garner majority support in the Dewan Rakyat," he said, referring to Malaysia's House of Representatives.
The Lower House has 222 seats, with 112 needed to form a government.
Immediately after, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition issued a statement declaring its support for Mahathir as prime minister candidate, saying the coalition will not support any attempt at a backdoor government.
PH has 93 lawmakers from three parties - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara.
At noon, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah's president Mohamad Sabu were seen exiting the palace after an hour inside. No remarks were given to the press.
Mahathir also denied reports that he supports Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin Yassin's candidacy.
"As I had repeatedly stated, I am against any form of cooperation with individuals who are known to be corrupt and was part of the kleptocratic administration which the Pakatan Harapan Government had worked hard to rid off.
"As a matter of principle, I had conveyed this to the Bersatu Members of Parliament in the meeting yesterday.
"I did not sign any Statutory Declaration in support of any individual."
Mahathir is part of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. Bersatu exited the PH alliance on Monday and named its president Muhyiddin as its prime minister candidate of choice on Friday.
With the departure of Bersatu's 26 lawmakers from the coalition and the exit of 10 lawmakers from PKR - led by former PKR deputy president Azmin Ali - the PH government collapsed without a 112 MPs majority.
On Monday, Mahathir resigned as prime minister but was made interim PM while lawmakers decide among themselves who can command the widest support to form a government.
The past week has seen multiple U-turns, with nearly all political parties with representatives in Parliament backing Mahathir as PM on Monday. However, that support immediately fell apart after the 94-year-old pushed for a nonpartisan government, a move that was balked by parties from both sides.
Umno and PAS retracted their support and began calling for snap polls, while PH came out to back PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as PM candidate. By midweek, neither side could win the numbers game.
By Friday, new allegiances appear as foes began to join hands. Starting with Bersatu stating its support for party president Muhyiddin Yassin as PM candidate. The Bersatu meeting was attended by the party's MPs and the 10 quitters from PKR.
Umno and PAS soon backtracked on their wish to hold elections, and throw their bets on naming Tan Sri Muhyiddin as their PM candidate as well. The Malay-centric partnership was gaining ground with expectations that Borneo parties in Sabah and Sarawak that had previously supported Mahathir would now join hands with Muhyiddin as well.
However, today's statement by Mahathir and PH has given the Malay pact a major setback. PH and Mahathir still do not have the 112 needed, but if Parti Warisan Sabah comes along with its 9 MPs and several from Bersatu follows Mahathir - Malaysia may just come back with a PH government after all.
With Mahathir back in the running, it is unclear who Bersatu will back. Today morning, it uploaded and then promptly deleted a statement backing Mahathir.
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