Mahathir Gets Coalition Support to Stay in Power Through November

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad won’t hand over power before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings this year, and he retains the authority to decide whether he would step down at all.

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition unanimously agreed on the plan in a late Friday meeting attended by Anwar Ibrahim, who has been expected to succeed Mahathir as premier.

“There were two opinions, but in the end -- and I’m proud of this -- in the end it was all up to me, whatever I say, they will follow,” Mahathir said to reporters in Putrajaya. “And I said, the transition will happen after APEC. No time, no date, no nothing. Only after APEC.”

When asked whether the agreement means Mahathir could choose not to step down, he said the decision would be his to make. “It returns to me,” he said. “They give full confidence in me.”

Malaysia’s government has been hounded by questions of when and how Mahathir would keep his campaign promise of serving as an interim prime minister and handing the reins over to coalition leader Anwar. Last year, Mahathir signaled his intent to stay for much of this year when he referred to himself as the only prime minister set to host APEC twice. The APEC leaders summit is set to happen in November.

“I myself proposed that Mahathir be given a chance to govern,” Anwar said. “Then when he sets an appropriate time, only then. So meanwhile I have to be patient.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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