Malaysia's 94-year-old prime minister resigns

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 24, 2020 - Duration: 01:23s

Malaysia's 94-year-old prime minister resigns

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned as prime minister on Monday, leaving the country in political turmoil and drawing calls from some quarters for the world's oldest leader to return at the head of a new government.

Joe Davies reports.

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Malaysia's 94-year-old prime minister resigns

The Malaysian prime minister, 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, resigned on Monday (February 24) in a letter to the country's King and quit his party in the process.

The fate of Malaysia's ruling coalition had been in doubt all weekend.

There had been talks between some of its members and opposition groups on forming a new government that would exclude Mahathir's anointed successor, Anwar Ibrahim.

The pair joined forces to win the 2018 election and oust the long-running United Malays National Organization.

But the alliance was based on a promise that Mahathir - the world's oldest prime minister - would eventually cede power to Anwar.

The 72-year-old was finance minister and deputy prime minister in the 1990s, before he was twice jailed for sodomy in convictions that troubled human rights groups.

On Sunday (February 23), Anwar accused Mahathir's party, and "traitors" in his own, of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organization.

But after a meeting with Mahathir on Monday, he was sounding more positive.

Mahathir's Bersatu party has quit the ruling the coalition along with 11 lawmakers from Anwar's PKR party.

Anwar was due to meet with the king on Monday.

It's not clear if he has the political support to stake a claim on forming a government.

It's also not clear if Mahathir's resignation will be accepted.

If it is, despite a previous promise that Anwar would assume power, for the time being at least, it is Anwar's wife, the current deputy prime minister, who would be the highest figure in the government.

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