Apr 27, 2008

Regional UMNO party leaders urge PM Abdullah to quit soon

The UMNO division of Batu Pahat, a district in Johor state, at a meeting on Saturday urged Abdullah to resign before December over the ruling coalition's dismal election performance.

KUALA LUMPUR: Powerful regional leaders from the ruling party are demanding that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down before it holds leadership elections in December, reports said on Sunday.

They have also warned Abdullah that he would lose if he stood for re-election.

The latest call to quit came from leaders in southern Johor state, who have emerged as major power brokers in Abdullah's ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Abdullah has come under pressure to quit after March 8 elections when he led the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to its worst election defeat in history.

The UMNO-led coalition lost its two-thirds majority in parliament and control of five states in the general elections, in the worst performance of its half-century rule over Malaysia.

The UMNO division of Batu Pahat, a district in Johor state, at a meeting on Saturday urged Abdullah to resign before December over the ruling coalition's dismal election performance.

"This is what the people want. At the meeting, many voiced their dissatisfaction against the leadership and agreed that a change in power was necessary to save the party," Puad Zarkashi, Johor UMNO information chief, was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former leader Mahathir Mohamad, said Abdullah must quit soon to avoid a contest for the top post in UMNO as it would further split UMNO.

"It will allow the party to close ranks and go about reclaiming its political pride which was battered (in the March election)," he was quoted as saying by the Sunday Star newspaper.

Abdullah has said that he would not quit suddenly and would seek re-election for the UMNO president's post.

The UMNO president traditionally holds the post of prime minister.

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