KUALA LUMPUR: In an unexpected turn of events, Pakatan Harapan (PH) on Saturday (Feb 29) declared its support for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be the next Malaysian prime minister.
Dr Mahathir also issued a statement simultaneously declaring that he commands the majority of the parliament.
These came just a day after Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) said it would support party president Muhyiddin Yassin to take over as head of government, with several other parties pledging the same.
PH, following Dr Mahathir's earlier refusal to attend a coalition presidential council meeting, had on Wednesday named Mr Anwar Ibrahim as its choice of prime minister.
PH, in its Saturday statement, said it is a coalition that received a clear mandate in the 14th general election.
“We are against any attempts for a backdoor government especially those involving kleptocrats and traitors who will ruin all the efforts of reformation to date.
“Therefore, Pakatan Harapan declares its full support for Dr Mahathir to be nominated as prime minister," the statement read.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir has offered himself as prime minister again, after a meeting with PH leaders in the morning.
"I am now confident that I have the numbers needed to garner majority support in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives).
"I am therefore prepared to stand as prospective candidate for prime minister," he said.
In his statement, Dr Mahathir, who is the interim prime minister, reiterated that he is against any form of cooperation with individuals known to be corrupt and were part of the kleptocratic administration that PH worked hard to rid off.
"As a matter of principle, I had conveyed this to the Bersatu MPs in the meeting yesterday," he said.
Bersatu had on Friday said that its decision to nominate Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister was made at a meeting attended by 36 Bersatu MPs.
Dr Mahathir said he did not sign any statutory declaration in support of any individual.
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He stressed that he would not work with politicians from United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). UMNO is among the parties that have thrown its support behind Mr Muhyiddin.
"I can accept them individually for so long as they are proven clean. Perhaps Tan Sri Muhyiddin is more relaxed towards this approach," Dr Mahathir added.
Separately, Mr Muhyiddin and several other political leaders were seen arriving at Istana Negara in the morning, according to Malaysian media. They left about 40 minutes later.