May 21, 2008

Nazri Says Dr Mahathir Blackmailing Umno

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the recent action by Tun Mahathir is blackmailing UMNO.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (Bernama) -- The decision by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to quit Umno is deemed as blackmailing the party, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said Tuesday.

"Nobody, no matter how big he is, has the right to use dirty tactics to bring down a person who is democratically elected," he said in reference to Dr Mahathir's move to unseat Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Umno president with his decision to quit Monday.

"It's not something that we condone and it's undemocratic; that's blackmailing the party," he said at the Parliament lobby when asked to comment on Dr Mahathir's decision to leave the party.

Dr Mahathir announced Monday that he had resigned as an Umno member with immediate effect together with his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, saying that he had lost confidence in the leadership of Abdullah as the party president and would return to Umno only after Abdullah had stepped down or was no longer the prime minister.

Dr Mahathir, who had led Umno and the country for 22 years, also suggested that branch and divisional leaders in the party resign as well as a signal for Abdullah to step down as party president before the Umno elections in December. Abdullah has stated that he would contest the president's post in the forthcoming Umno elections.

Asked whether Umno would accept the former prime minister back if he wanted to rejoin the party in future, Mohamed Nazri said party leaders would decide on the matter when the time came.

"This is democracy. Nobody (in Umno) asked him to leave, he is no longer a child. I am sure he has given it thought and still wants to leave," he said.

Earlier, Members of Parliament (MPs) from Umno expressed their solid support for Abdullah as party president and gave the assurance that they would not leave Umno.

The statement of support was made at a special one-hour meeting Tuesday with the prime minister when the Parliament sitting broke for lunch.

Asked if Dr Mahathir's decision to quit Umno meant that he had cut ties with the party, Mohamed Nazri said it was not fair to pose such a question to him or other Umno members.

"Don't ask me ... ask him," he said in reference to Dr Mahathir.

"We did not sack him, so it is not fair to ask us in Umno because we did not leave Umno. He (Dr Mahathir) left Umno," he said.

Asked whether Dr Mahathir's son and Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz had attended the special meeting with the prime minister, Mohamed Nazri said he was not sure of that.

He said he hoped that the media would not put pressure on or force Mukhriz into a difficult situation over his father's move.

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