Malaysia’s king has begun the process of selecting a new prime minister to succeed Muhyiddin Yassin and lead the country out of a political crisis.
King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah summoned the leaders of six political parties to the royal palace Tuesday, including longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The king also called on all lawmakers in the 222-seat parliament to submit the name of the person they want to become prime minister.
Malaysia’s king is a ceremonial figurehead, but he appoints the person he believes has the support of the majority of lawmakers.
Muhyiddin and his entire cabinet resigned Monday after just 17 months in office, the shortest tenure of any prime minister in Malaysia’s history. He said he was stepping down because he had lost support of the majority of lawmakers.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah is keeping Muhyiddin on as caretaker prime minister, saying it is too risky to hold elections as the country struggles with rising COVID-19 infections.
The king selected Muhyiddin as prime minister in March 2020, after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s ruling coalition collapsed a month earlier. But he has been beset by constant challenges to his leadership within his fragile coalition and rising anger over his government’s poor response to the pandemic.
Malaysia has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rates and deaths per million, with 1.4 million total infections and 12,510 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Muhyiddin’s tenuous grip on power began unraveling when a group of lawmakers with the United Malays National Organization, the largest party in the coalition, withdrew its support. The UMNO, once Malaysia’s long-serving ruling party dating back to the country’s independence in 1957, has a handful of politicians facing corruption charges, including former prime minister Najib Razak.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.