Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has submitted his resignation to the king, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday, amid talks of forming a new coalition to govern the country.
Mahathir, 94, assumed office in May 2018 for his second stint as prime minister. A spokesman from the prime minister’s office declined to comment, saying only that a statement will be issued soon. The sources declined to be named as they were not authorised to talk to the media, reported Reuters news agency.
The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition is hanging in doubt after surprise weekend talks between Mahathir’s party and other groups on forming a new government that would exclude his anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.
The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.
“I am impressed with his position…to not bow to groups that want to seize power without an agenda for change,” Anwar told reporters outside Mahathir’s residence after the two met, but without saying what they had agreed.
Anwar added, “I am satisfied with his position, that it is the principle that we need to uphold. The reform agenda must be continued.” He described the meeting as having been “very good”.
On Sunday, Anwar had accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid graft accusations.
Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction in Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.