Mahathir Mohamad on Monday resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister and his Bersatu party has quit the governing Alliance of Hope coalition.
Mr Mohamad’s move comes after a weekend of drama, with parties from both government and coalition meeting all day Sunday and Anwar Ibrahim, the designated successor to Mahathir, alleging “betrayal” by allies.
Messrs Ibrahim and Mohamad met on Monday, shortly before Mr Mohamad, 94, the world’s oldest Prime Minister, announced that he would quit.
Mr Mohamad previously said he wanted to remain as leader until after Malaysia hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November.
Eleven members of Mr Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, which was part of the Mohamad-led coalition, announced that they are forming a new independent grouping under Azmin Ali, Malaysia’s economic affairs minister.
Mr Ali was among the former Mr Ibrahim’s allies seen at meetings on Sunday that spurred speculation that the government was about to fall and that members of the coalition were aiming to oust Mr Ibrahim and his allies.
It is not clear whether Mr Mohamad or Bersatu can yet form another government.
Muhyiddin Yassin, president of Mr Mohamad’s Bersatu party, said in a statement that he and the party’s lawmakers “continue to support and trust” Mr Mohamad as prime minister.
Among the parties seen at meeting Sunday with Mr Mohamad’s allies was the opposition United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which Mr Mohamad led during his first 1981-2003 tenure as prime minister.
Messrs Ibrahim and Mohamad have a long and fractious history, going back to the early 1990’s when Mr Ibrahim, a former finance minister and deputy prime minister, was seen as Mr Mohamad’s likely successor.
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But after a spectacular falling-out, Mr Ibrahim was jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption.
The two men only reconciled in the run-up to Malaysia’s 2018 parliamentary elections, when Mr Mohamad led the opposition alliance to a shock election win over his former UMNO allies, the first change of government in Malaysian history.
In what could presage the announcement of a new government, Mr Mohamad will meet Malaysia’s King at 5 p.m. (0900 GMT) on Monday.