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Malaysia opposition leader Anwar says seeking to form new government

ASIA
By Reuters | September 23rd 2020

Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he has secured a strong majority from lawmakers in order to form a new government and was seeking an audience with the king to formalise his appointment as prime minister.

Anwar, who will need the king’s assent to replace current premier Muhyiddin Yassin, told a news conference his support from lawmakers means “Muhyiddin has fallen as PM.”

“We have a strong, formidable majority. I’m not talking about four, five, six (seats), I’m talking about much more than that,” said Anwar, who did not give any numbers but said it was close to two thirds of the 222 lawmakers.

“We need a strong stable government to run the country and save the country,” he added.

The opposition leader’s claim comes less than seven months after Muhyiddin clinched the premiership following political turmoil that saw the collapse of the previous administration under Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Should Muhyiddin get an audience with the king first, he could advise him to dissolve parliament and trigger snap national polls.

Muhyiddin came to power in March after securing a parliamentary majority with the support of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which was defeated in the 2018 election.

His opponents have accused him of grabbing power by shifting alliances instead of earning it at the ballot box.

But the premier has a razor-thin majority and there has been speculation he could seek an election to win a stronger mandate.

Anwar, 73, has had a tumultuous political career over the past two decades.

At first a rising star of Malaysian politics, he was jailed for sodomy and corruption after a feud with the government, spending nearly 10 years behind bars on charges that he and his supporters have described as a plot to destroy his political career.

But he was granted a royal pardon in 2018, as part of the deal with Mahathir for him to succeed the premiership.

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