In a shocking move, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad submitted a letter of resignation to Malaysia’s king on Monday amid talks of forming a new governing coalition without his designated successor Anwar Ibrahim.
The move comes after Malaysia’s ruling coalition has been having surprise weekend talks with opposition groups on forming a new government. “The letter has been sent to His Royal Highness the King at 1 pm,” Mahathir’s office said in a statement.
Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, has also quit the ruling coalition according to Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin Facebook post.
Speculations of the new government came into news after Anwar accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government on Sunday, with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid graft accusations.
Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction in Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and 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.
In a surprise victory, Mahathir had ousted then-prime minister Najib Razak, who has been linked to a multibillion-dollar scandal involving a government fund. The power tussle between old rivals 94-year-old Mahathir and 72-year-old Anwar has shaped Malaysian politics for decades, despite their unusual alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.
Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003 and was part of the long-ruling party Barisan Nasional (BN). Anwar was his deputy but the relationship soured when Anwar was sacked in 1998 after a leadership dispute.
The history seems to be repeating itself after the recent events which still leaves the question of who will be the next prime minister or if new elections will be called.