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Anwar Ibrahim set to meet king in challenge for premiership

  • Joseph Sipalan

    Reuters

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   /   Tue, October 13, 2020   /   10:50 am
Anwar Ibrahim set to meet king in challenge for premiership Malaysia's People's Justice Party president and leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition Anwar Ibrahim (right) waves before taking an oath as a member of the parliament during a swearing-in ceremony at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur on October 15, 2018. Mohd RASFAN / AFP (AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is set to meet with the king on Tuesday to prove he has the parliamentary support needed to replace Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Anwar added a fresh twist to the Southeast Asian nation's political drama last month after he declared that he had secured a "formidable" majority from federal lawmakers to form a new government.

The power struggle comes as the country, already grappling with an economy battered by the coronavirus, faces a renewed surge in infections.

Anwar was seen entering the palace grounds in a two-car convoy on Tuesday morning, according to a report by national news wire Bernama.

Should Anwar succeed in securing the post, it would be the culmination of a 22-year long quest, during which he spent nearly 10 years in jail. It would also mean Malaysia would have its third prime minister this year.

But skepticism over Anwar's claim remains as no major party has offered a clear declaration of support. One party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, has said some of its lawmakers supported Anwar.

"Should the meeting fail to translate into an actionable outcome, his credibility will be affected and this may push the opposition bloc to find another PM candidate," said Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, senior associate at political consultancy Vriens & Partners.

Muhyiddin, whose seven-month-old administration has survived on a razor-thin parliamentary majority, had earlier dismissed Anwar's claims as a "mere allegation" and told him to prove his majority through a constitutional process.

Leaders in Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional coalition issued a statement on Monday declaring full support for Muhyiddin.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah plays a largely ceremonial role but he can appoint a prime minister who in his view is likely to command a majority, so Anwar will need to convince him he has such backing.

The king could also dissolve parliament and trigger elections on the premier's advice.

It was not clear if an outcome would be known on Tuesday.