Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says he will step down
in March. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta reports the
announcement was made amid turmoil in the ruling party.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced he was stepping down
from his post in March - four years before the end of his term - to
save his ruling party from splitting.
Mr. Abdullah, whose
announcement was widely expected, said he would nominate his deputy,
Najib Razak, as party president of the ruling Barisan Nacional.
The ruling-party president automatically becomes prime minister.
has been facing mounting pressure to resign since his United Malays
National Organization, called UMNO - which forms the core of the
Barisan Nacional coalition - lost its majority rule in the March
general elections to the opposition coalition.
Abdullah said his decision to resign was to keep the party coalition united.
will not stand for the presidency of UMNO in the coming party
election," he said. "I do not want a divided party and governing
coalition, but one that is united and harmonious. A united Barisan
Nacional is vital in order for the country to face the global
challenges ahead and for Malaysia to become a fully developed nation
with prosperity and fairness to all."
Opposition leader Anwar
Ibrahim has repeatedly said he has enough parliamentary defectors to
bring down the government, despite facing sodomy charges he says are
But political analyst Khoo Kay Peng says
with the country facing economic and political turmoil, both coalitions
will need to work together no matter who is prime minister.
need a national unity government because Malaysia at the moment has a
very highly centralized federal government. And with the political
contestation going on between the two coalitions, you will make it very
difficult for it to work ... so I think the point is that we will have
to see whether the two of them can come now to their senses and say
that for now the focus has to be on the economy," said Khoo Kay Peng.
say Malaysia's economy, already hard hit by the high price of oil -
inflation reached a 27-year high this month - will further slow down
because of the global financial crisis, with growth expected at just
three percent in 2009.