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Anwar Ibrahim claims ‘formidable’ majority to form new govt in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he has secured a ‘formidable’ majority from lawmakers to oust Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and form a new government, heralding a fresh bout of political drama in the Southeast Asian country.

The power struggle comes at a difficult time for the multi-ethnic nation, as its export driven economy has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The Malaysian ringgit and stocks fell after Anwar’s comments.

Anwar now has to convince Malaysia’s king, Sultan Abdullah, that he has the numbers to form a government, but as yet no major political party has come out in his support.

The king could instead choose to call for elections on Muhyiddin’s advice to end months of political volatility.

Muhyiddin, whose seven-month-old coalition has survived on a razor-thin majority, dismissed Anwar’s claims as a “mere allegation”, telling him to prove his majority through a constitutional process.

“Until proven otherwise, the Perikatan Nasional government remains steadfast and I am the rightful prime minister,” Muhyiddin said in a statement referring to his ruling coalition.

Muhyiddin also unveiled an additional economic stimulus package worth 10 billion ringgit ($2.41 billion).

The six major political parties supporting Muhyiddin dismissed Anwar’s claim as “cheap publicity” and said in a joint statement that they were firmly behind Muhyiddin, who emerged as leader after the resignation of the previous prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

If Anwar finally succeeds in winning power it would mark the culmination of a 22-year long struggle, during which he spent almost 10 years in jail.

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