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Malaysia's king appoints Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister

But Mahathir Mohamad challenges move and says he has majority.

GAME CHANGERS
Malaysia's king has appointed experienced politician Muhyiddin Yassin as the new prime minister.

Most experts expected either Mahathir Mohamad or his longtime rival Anwar Ibrahim to emerge victorious from a week-long political crisis that started when the nonagenarian suddenly resigned as prime minister on Monday.

The royal palace on Saturday said in a statement the king had “decreed that the process of appointing a prime minister cannot be delayed”.

Mr Muhyiddin will be sworn in on Sunday morning on the basis that he has possibly secured a parliamentary majority, the statement said.

Despite Saturday’s announcement, analysts caution there might be more surprises and question whether Mr Muhyiddin would survive a potential confidence vote.

Mr Muhyiddin’s appointment follows a weeklong political meltdown in Malaysia. Following Mr Mahathir’s resignation and appointment as interim prime minister, the king interviewed each of Malaysia’s 222 members of parliament to determine which potential leader could secure a majority in parliament. He then met each party head after Mr Mahathir’s request for a parliamentary sitting to pick the next prime minister was not met.

Party lines have also been redrawn several times. A few hours prior to the king’s announcement, Pakatan Harapan said it would back Mr Mahathir as the next prime minister, after proposing Mr Anwar earlier in the week. On Saturday, Mr Mahathir said he was standing as a prospective leader, “confident” he could secure parliamentary majority.

Mr Mahathir’s resignation followed talks last weekend between members of his coalition and opposition parties, widely seen as an attempt to form a new coalition to replace the Pakatan Harapan. Bersatu then left the ruling coalition while 11 MPs quit Mr Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (PKR) to form an independent unit.

Published: March 1, 2020