Malaysian PM Mahathir Offers Resignation Amid Political Upheaval

The prime minister’s office said in a brief statement that Mahathir submitted his resignation to the palace at 1 pm.

2 min read
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad tendered his resignation to Malaysia's king on Monday, 24 February, while his political party quit the ruling alliance in a shocking political upheaval less than two years after his election victory.

The prime minister's office said in a brief statement that Mahathir submitted his resignation to the palace at 1 pm but gave no further details. Mahathir also quit as chairman of his Bersatu party.

The stunning turn of events come amid plans by Mahathir supporters to team with opposition parties to form a new government and thwart the transition of power to his named successor Anwar Ibrahim.

Minutes before his resignation was offered, Mahathir's Bersatu party announced it would leave the alliance and support Mahathir as the premier. Eleven other lawmakers, including several Cabinet ministers, also announced they are quitting Anwar's party to form an independent bloc.

A Political Drama

The withdrawal of more than three dozen lawmakers means the ruling alliance has lost its majority in Parliament, throwing the country into an uncertain future and sparking fears of more turmoil over how the political drama will play out.

Opinions are divided on whether Mahathir is quitting for good or making a tactical move to buy time to cobble together a new majority to form a government.

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who met Bersatu and several other leaders on Sunday, met Anwar on Monday afternoon and summoned Mahathir to the palace. Analysts said the king could decide on which faction has the support or dissolve Parliament for snap elections.

The political drama unraveled on Sunday, with maneuvers aimed at keeping Mahathir in power and thwarting Anwar, replaying their decades-old feud. Anwar was Mahathir's deputy during Mahathir's first stint as prime minister but fell out politically before reuniting in the political pact that ousted a corruption-tainted government in the May 2018 election. Mahathir has refused to set a date to relinquish power despite a pre-election agreement to hand over power to Anwar.

Anwar confirmed late Sunday that there were attempts by some Bersatu members and "traitors" from his party to form a new government in a “betrayal" of their political pact. He said on Monday, after meeting Mahathir with other alliance leaders, that Mahathir had quit as he didn't want to be associated with the former government that he worked so hard to oust in 2018 polls.

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