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Abdullah faces growing pressure to quit


March 10, 2008

Abdullah faces growing pressure to quit

Abdullah Badawi is expected to be sworn in as Malaysian prime minister on Monday (March 10) for a new tenure of five years but there are calls for his resignation including one from former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Abdullah, whose Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition won a simple majority of 139 seats out of the 222-member parliament, which gave him the mandate to form a new government, has already said he would not resign.

“I will not resign because there is no pressure,” national news agency Bernama quoted him as saying. Abdullah added that he still had strong support, especially from ruling party leaders.

Among those calling him to quit was former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who handed over to Abdullah in 2003 after two decades leading the United National Malays Organisation (UMNO) which dominates the coalition.

"My view is he has destroyed UMNO, destroyed the BN and he has been responsible for this," Mahathir was quoted by several news agencies as saying Sunday. Mahathir suggested Abdullah should resign, and admitted he had made a mistake in selecting him as prime minister.

In the March 8 polls, the opposition gained control of five of Malaysia's 13 states and a third of its parliament in the biggest electoral upset in the country's history. Abdullah's coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the parliament for the first time in four decades.

Observers saw the results as a verdict against a number of missteps by Abdullah, and his coalition amidst the widening poverty gap and increasing cost of living.

Abdullah’s is likely to face a test again later this year at the general assembly of his United Malays National Organisation, the largest party in the National Front coalition.

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