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Malaysian king lets lawmakers determine next prime minister

By
Don Jacobson
Malaysian interim leader Mahathir Mohamad said lawmakers will meet Monday to begin a process to determine the next prime minister.  Photo by Ahmad Yusni/EPA-EFE
Malaysian interim leader Mahathir Mohamad said lawmakers will meet Monday to begin a process to determine the next prime minister.  Photo by Ahmad Yusni/EPA-EFE

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The Malaysian Parliament will meet next week to determine the nation's new prime minister following a week of political turmoil, interim leader Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday.

Mahathir said Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin has agreed to allow Parliament to select the new leader rather than appointing one himself. The king made that decision after failing to come to a consensus among all 222 members of the lower house.

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The king also said snap elections will be held if lawmakers can't agree a new prime minister when they meet Monday, Mahathir told reporters Thursday while announcing an economic stimulus package related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Mahathir announced his resignation from the post on Monday.

Malaysia's ruling coaliton, led by Mahathir, collapsed this week after a failed bid by supporters to form a new "backdoor" government without rival and designated successor Anwar Ibrahim, who was nominated Wednesday as prime minister by the remaining members of coalition.

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition -- led by Mahathir's Bersatu Party and Anwar's People's Justice Party (PKR) -- has splintered less than two years after defeating an alliance that had ruled Malaysia since its independence from Britain 61 years ago.

The PKR holds 39 seats in Parliament and its partners could add another 62, but that would still fall short of the 112 seats needed for a ruling majority.

Mahathir has pushed for a "unity" government without party affiliations, but Anwar has rejected the idea, saying it would be unsustainable and bring Mahathir too much power.

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