Malaysia’s Mahathir says he is open to returning as prime minister – dpa international


Mahathir Mohamed speaking at a conference on Rohingya in Kuala Lumpur on June 12 2015 (Simon Roughneen)

BANGKOK — In his first speech since his shock resignation as prime minister, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad said he was open to returning to the job if he had the backing of lawmakers.

Mahathir, who now serves as interim prime minister, suggested “party politics” be “put aside for the time being” and a national unity government be formed to replace the four-party coalition that collapsed after the 94-year-old resigned on Monday.

He left it up to Malaysia’s parliament to decide who will lead the next government.

“If it’s true that I’m still supported I’ll be back. Otherwise I will accept whoever is selected,” he said.

Mahathir, who did not give a reason for quitting, said he is hoping for “an administration that is not sided with any party.”

Mahathir said he would not form a government with the United National Malays Organisation (UMNO), his former party that he helped defeat in May 2018 parliamentary elections after joining the opposition, which was then was led by Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister during Mahathir’s first 1981-2003 run as prime minister.

Mahathir promised Anwar – who he had jailed after a late-1990s falling-out – that he could take over as prime minister in May 2020. But Mahathir later said he wanted to stay on longer, leading Anwar to suspect a plot to prevent his succession

Anwar and allies claim the support of 92 lawmakers in his bid to become premier – still short of the majority needed.

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