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Malaysian politics in turmoil amid talk of new coalition

Hit by the uncertainty, stocks fell more than two percent to their lowest since 2011 after Monday’s opening

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KUALA LUMPU,R 24 February 2020 (Reuters) : The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition hung in doubt on Monday, after surprise weekend talks between Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s party and other groups on forming a new government that would exclude his anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.
The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.
Hit by the uncertainty, stocks fell more than two percent to their lowest since 2011 after Monday’s opening.
On Sunday, Anwar accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid widespread corruption accusations.
Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction within Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.
One source said the new grouping had more than the 112 members needed for a parliamentary majority, should they stake a claim to form a government.
“In terms of numbers, the new coalition has more than enough,” the source added.
Holding fresh elections was an option, said two of the sources.
All the sources sought anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private discussions with the media.
Mahathir’s party, the opposition UMNO, the Islamist PAS and Anwar’s party faction did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mahathir’s party, UMNO and PAS met the king on Sunday, media said, though it was not immediately clear what they discussed, and whether the new proposed coalition would secure backing from the king, who plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia.
The king can dissolve parliament on the advice of the prime minister and his assent is required for the appointment of a prime minister or senior officials. (GNP)

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