Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned on Monday when his party left the government coalition and plunged the country into a political crisis.
Mahathir, the world’s oldest leader at the age of 94, surprised the observers when he won the elections in 2018, and ended two decades of rule by the Barisan Nasional coalition.
As part of his election strategy, he had promised to eventually transfer power to Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, although observers now speculate that he is not living up to that promise.
Although Mahathir has not revealed the reasons for his resignation, many believe he will try to form a new government coalition that excludes Anwar and holds himself.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, traveled to the Royal Palace in the capital of Kuala Lumpur on Monday to present his resignation to the king
It is thought that the 94-year-old Mahathir (center) will now try to form a new government that will eliminate successor Anwar Ibrahim (left), to whom he promised to give power after his victory in 2018
The departure of his Bersatu party from the government coalition robs her of the parliamentary majority and effectively leaves the country without a government.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a brief statement that Mahathir had resigned at 1 p.m. to the King of Malaysia. but gave no further details.
He also stopped as chairman of the Bersatu party.
Minutes before his resignation was offered, Bersatu said it would leave the four-party Alliance of Hope and support Mahathir as the prime minister.
Eleven other legislators, including several cabinet ministers, have also announced that they are leaving Anwar’s party to form an independent bloc.
The withdrawal of more than three dozen legislators means that the ruling alliance has lost its majority in Parliament, leading the country to an uncertain future and fearing more unrest about how the political drama will take place.
Opinions are divided as to whether Mahathir will stop for good or take a tactical step to buy time to bring together a new majority to form a government.
King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who met Bersatu and several other leaders on Sunday, met Anwar on Monday afternoon and called Mahathir to the palace.
Mahathir shocked observers as he became the world’s oldest leader with his 2018 election win, ending two decades of rule by the rival Barisan Nasional party
Analysts said the king could decide which faction has the support or could dissolve the Parliament for unexpected elections.
The political drama unraveled Sunday with maneuvers aimed at keeping Mahathir in power and thwarting Anwar and repeating their decades-old feud.
Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy during Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister, but broke up politically before reuniting in a pact that expelled a corruption-affected government in the May 2018 elections.
Mahathir refused to set a date to hand over power, despite an agreement prior to the elections to hand over power to Anwar.
Anwar confirmed at the end of Sunday that attempts had been made by some Bersatu members and “traitors” to form a new government in a “betrayal” of their political pact.
He said Monday after meeting Mahathir with other alliance leaders that Mahathir had stopped because he did not want to be associated with the former government that he worked so hard to dispel the polls in 2018.
“His name was used by those within my party and beyond,” Anwar told reporters. Mahathir “repeated what he had said before, that he played no role in it and he made it very clear that he will in no way work with those associated with the previous regime,” he added.
Those near Anwar (photo) confirmed in the weekend that there was a conspiracy to disable his succession, so many believed that Monday’s dismissal was part of the scheme
Ironically, the maneuvers would restore the Malaysian party of the disgraceful former leader Najib Razak, who is on trial for corruption with several of his party leaders.
It would also propel national power to a fundamentalist Islamic party that rules two states and defends Islamic laws.
The two Malaysian parties still have strong support from ethnic Malaysians, who account for 60 percent of the 32 million people in Malaysia.
Mahathir was silent, but many Malaysians responded with horror and shock to social media, saying that it would be unethical to form a “back door” government and that a new election should be held if the ruling alliance collapsed.
In a new turn, two other parties in the Anwar alliance said that during an emergency meeting on Monday evening, they would propose that Mahathir continue as prime minister to continue their reform agenda.
Analysts warned that such a new government could lead to Malaysian Islamic supremacy that would derail Malaysia’s multi-ethnic society.
“If the new government continues, Malaysia is on its way to a very regressive phase where racial supremacy and religious extremism become the rule of the day,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.