Sep 26, 2008

PM Abdullah hints could step down earlier

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi indicated Friday he could step down next March, saying he had not decided whether to stand in ruling party leadership elections to be held then.

Abdullah spoke after an emergency meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), held amid speculation he would be forced to quit ahead of a planned transition to his deputy Najib Razak in mid-2010.

The embattled premier said that UMNO internal polls scheduled for December would now be postponed until March, and that he would make an announcement in the next few weeks over whether he would bid for the top job.

“I have not made any decision as far as this particular point is concerned," he said. "The decision is mine, you can go on guessing. As far as I'm concerned I love the party."

But he indicated that he would depart sooner rather than later, saying the party polls had been brought forward "to help facilitate an early transition".

Abdullah admitted that several members of UMNO's Supreme Council were pushing for a speedy transition of power, but he said the policy-making body agreed with the decision to shift the party elections.

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