Muhyiddin Yassin in the early hours of May 10 2018, when he was part of the Pakatan Harapan alliance that won the previous day’s parliamentary elections (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning in a ceremony boycotted by Mahathir Mohamad, the previous prime minister, who claims he has a majority of lawmakers endorsing his return as premier after he quit less than a week ago.

Muhyiddin’s appointment was announced by the country’s king on Saturday afternoon. Though the monarchy is largely ceremonial, the king can name a prime minister who he thinks is “likely” to command a majority in parliament, which in practice usually reflects election results.

In turn, Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope coalition that made up the previous government published a list of 114 parliamentarians who they said backed Mahathir, two more than the number needed for a majority.

Mahathir on Sunday described the the appointment of Muhyiddin as “strange” and said the king refused to entertain his claim of majority support.

Dozens of lawmakers who support Mahathir met in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning as Mahathir told a press conference that he feels betrayed by Muhyiddin.

The pair set up their now-split Bersatu party ahead of 2018 elections. “He was working on this for a long time and now he has succeeded,” Mahathir said.

The anointing of Muhyiddin, a 73 year old who has been a parliamentarian since 1978 and was deputy prime minister to disgraced former premier Najib Razak, comes after a fraught and intrigue-laden week marred by shifting alliances.

Mahathir said on Sunday morning that Muhyiddin would face an immediate vote of no-confidence when Malaysia’s parliament reconvenes on March 9.

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