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July 11, 2008

Malaysia PM to hand over power to deputy in June 2010
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced Thursday he would step down and hand over power to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak in June 2010, reported Kyodo news agency.

In making the announcement, Abdullah, who is also the president of the ruling United Malays National Organization, ended months of speculation over the timetable for a transition plan.

"I have decided that Datuk Seri Najib should take over the president's post in mid-2010," he told a joint press conference together with Najib. He would not be leading the party into the next general election.

Abdullah is the prime minister by virtue of being the leader of the largest party in the ruling 14-party National Front (BN) coalition. The orderly transition of power is according to UMNO tradition, Najib noted.

"I am touched at the willingness of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to let go of his positions according to plan. It is not easy to step down as prime minister and UMNO president," he said.

Abdullah has been under pressure to set a timeline for his succession plan ever since he led BN to its worst-ever result in the March general election.

BN lost its two-thirds hold in parliament for the first time in 40 years. It also lost control of five states out of 13 to the opposition. Four of the states lost were previously helmed by UMNO.

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