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Malaysia Power Struggle: PM Abdullah to step down in March

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October 9, 2008

Malaysia Power Struggle:
PM Abdullah to step down in March

Malaysia's embattled prime minister will step down in March, four years before his term ends, the Associated Press quoted A party official as saying.

The official says Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made the announcement during a meeting with top leaders of the 13 parties comprising the ruling National Front coalition.

The official who attended the meeting Wednesday sent a cell phone text message to reporters saying Abdullah has "confirmed he will step down." The official says Abdullah will hand over the office to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Abdullah has been under intense pressure to quit since disastrous general elections this year that shattered confidence within the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads a multi-racial coalition, AFP said in a separate report.

"I am now announcing I will not seek the presidency of UMNO in the upcoming elections. I want a party that is united," Abdullah told a press conference, referring to the party's internal leadership vote in March.

Traditionally the UMNO president becomes prime minister, and the party's vice-president Mohamad Ali Rustam confirmed Abdullah would also relinquish his position as prime minister.

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