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Mahathir seeks urgent parliament sitting, with Muhyiddin set to be sworn in

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Malaysia’s Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday (March 1) that he would ask for an urgent sitting of parliament to see if incoming prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin had majority support after being named premier by the king.

Dr Mahathir, 94, who has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, said the swearing-in of Mr Muhyiddin would take place as planned at 10.30am. Dr Mahathir said the king would no longer see him to present his case that Muhyiddin doesn’t have majority backing in parliament.

The change in leadership comes less than a week after Dr Mahathir unexpectedly resigned as prime minister, plunging the South-east Asian country into political turmoil.

Mr Muhyiddin, 72, will take office with the support of the former ruling party that lost the 2018 election to an alliance of Dr Mahathir and old rival Anwar Ibrahim.

“We are going to see a man who does not have majority support become prime minister,” Dr Mahathir said, adding that he felt betrayed by Mr Muhyiddin, whom he accused of plotting for a long time to take the premiership.

Calling for the urgent parliament session, Dr Mahathir said all 114 members of parliament who he says currently support him would do so again if it came to a vote.

The former ruling party of six decades, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), was among those that had rallied in support of Mr Muhyiddin, along with the Islamist party PAS.

Mr Muhyiddin is from Dr Mahathir’s Bersatu party, but had shown himself ready to work with Umno – from which he had been sacked in 2016 after questioning former prime minister Najib Razak’s handling of a corruption scandal over which Najib is now on trial.

Umno’s fortunes have risen since its 2018 defeat, with Dr Mahathir and Mr Anwar’s Pakatan coalition losing five by-elections in the face of criticism from some Malay voters that it should do more to favour the biggest ethnic group in the country of 32 million. – REUTERS