Sep 26, 2008

Muhyiddin: March is new deadline for Pak Lah to quit

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 - Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today the postponement of the party elections to March next year indicates a new deadline had been set for party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to step down.

"It was earlier decided 2010, but at today's meeting the president and deputy president indicated that the postponement from December to March is to facilitate earlier transition, you can analyze anyway you want, but as far as I am concern, maybe a new deadline has been set, but let the president make the announcement," he told reporters after the supreme council special meeting today.

"I sense magnanimity in making this decision which is very important for the party," said the International Trade and Industry Minister.

When asked whether he was satisfied with the decision, as it is still unclear whether March 2009 is the new deadline, Muhyiddin said: "There must be some element of trust on the decision made today, there is no need for unnecessary speculation."

"Most importantly, we have to wait before the divisional meetings as the divisions need a clear sign whether the president will defend his position, it is not for me to say, but wait for his announcement," said Muhyiddin.

"Let's not pre-empt what is going to be. I cannot go beyond that," he said.

He added that the postponement reflects the sentiment on the ground and will not affect Abdullah's integrity.

"Whatever decision we make it must not split the party and adversely affect the president's image," said Muhyiddin.

"This is the best time to close ranks, because we have a bigger agenda to bring back the confidence and rebuilding the Barisan Nasional," he added.

Muhyiddin was the first senior Umno leader to urge Abdullah to reconsider the 2010 deadline.

He is also widely speculated to be considering a tilt for the party's deputy presidency.

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