Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad has submitted his resignation to Malaysia’s king, his office said on Monday. Mahathir shared tumultuous relations with India which forced New Delhi to ban the imports of palm oil from the country.
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The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition had been in doubt after surprise weekend talks between it and opposition groups on forming a new government that would exclude Mahathir’s anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.
“The letter has been sent to His Royal Highness the King at 1 pm,” Mahathir’s office said in a statement. It was not immediately clear if Mahathir could form another government with the support of other parties, but his party, Bersatu, has also quit the ruling coalition, its president, Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Facebook.
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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 PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.
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The turmoil, amid growing fears about a spreading coronavirus, had spooked investors, driving Kuala Lumpur’s benchmark to a 10-year low, while the ringgit currency slid 0.7% to an almost six-month low, its sharpest drop in over three years.
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.