Opposition coalition names Mahathir as its prime minister candidate: Sources

Opposition coalition names Mahathir as its prime minister candidate: Sources

File photo of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad speaking during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, March 30, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin)

KUALA LUMPUR: A proposal for Malaysia's longest serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to take the top position again has received majority support from the opposition coalition, sources told Channel NewsAsia.

The plan was discussed at the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan's retreat over the weekend for Parti Pribumi Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir, 92, to be Prime Minister until Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving out a five year sentence on a sodomy conviction, to be released.

It was also agreed that Anwar's wife and Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would become deputy prime minister.

Anwar is expected to be released from prison on good behaviour by mid-2018. Polls have to be held by August, but under Malaysian law, convicted criminals are banned from political activities for five years after their release.

The opposition has alleged that his conviction was politically motivated. 

PKR parliamentary whip Johari Abdul confirmed this plan was a go to Channel NewsAsia pending Anwar's approval, as Pakatan's defacto leader. 

"Yes (this is true) but subject to (Anwar Ibrahim's) OK," he said in a text message.

"You will know soon."

According to a source, all at the retreat were in agreement to this plan except for PKR deputy president Selangor Chief Minister Azmin Ali and a few of his supporters, allegedly over Azmin's own ambitions to be prime minister. 

The proposal is now awaiting Anwar's approval, as Pakatan's defacto leader. 

Dr Mahathir had told Channel NewsAsia in an interview in June that he would consider being prime minister again.

Dr Mahathir served as Malaysia's prime minister for 22 years until he stepped down in 2003, and he currently chairs a fractured opposition alliance. Last year, he set aside his old enmity with Anwar - who he had sacked in 1998 on charges of sodomy and corruption - in a bid to stop current Prime Minister Najib Razak from winning a third consecutive term.

Source: CNA/mn

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