Oct 5, 2008

Tun Mahathir does not believe Pak Lah will leave

SERI KEMBANGAN, Oct 5 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that he does not believe that Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi intends to announce his departure before the start of Umno divisional meetings on Oct 9.

"He likes to change his position, so as long as he does not make the announcement I will not believe it," Dr Mahathir told reporters at his Hari Raya open house, here.

Abdullah and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak had indicated that the postponement of party polls to March next year was done to facilitate an earlier transition of power and the Prime Minister had promised to decide whether he would defend his presidency or not by Oct 9.

Dr Mahathir, who left Umno in May because of a lack of confidence in Abdullah's leadership, also revealed that his plan to rejoin the party has been derailed.

"When I left I set the condition to rejoin, but now there is another problem. I found out that when I resigned many members followed me," he said, adding that he hoped those who left with him would also be accepted by the party.

When asked whether he would join his former branch, Jitra in the Kubang Pasu division, he said that he is open to any suggestion.

On the announcement made by Umno leaders Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam to contest the deputy presidency, Dr Mahathir said it is a good trend but hoped the aspirants would adhere to democratic principles.

He also hoped that the candidates would not form teams in the party election.

"When you have teams and your team mates are defeated, it is going to be hard for you to work with leaders from the other team," said Dr Mahathir.

Meanwhile, Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir told reporters that it is not appropriate for Umno leaders to announce their candidacy for the party's top posts before Abdullah's announcement.

"Maybe those who announced their intention to contest are certain that the president will not defend his position," said Mukhriz, who is running for the Umno Youth chief post.

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