World News

Malaysia's Anwar says to meet king to prove majority

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday said he will meet with the country’s king next week to present his case for taking over the premiership from Muhyiddin Yassin.

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim reacts during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia September 23, 2020. REUTERS/LIm Huey Teng

Anwar said King Al-Sultan Abdullah had agreed to grant him an audience, where he will present documentation “of the strong and convincing majority” of members of parliament backing his claim to the premiership.

“I would like to express my gratitude to His Majesty for granting me an audience to meet on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Insha’Allah,” Anwar said in a statement, using the Arabic term for “God willing”.

Two weeks ago, Anwar declared that he had gathered a “formidable” majority among federal lawmakers to oust Muhyiddin, sparking a fresh bout of political drama in the Southeast Asian country.

Anwar had said he commanded support from close to two-thirds of parliament’s 222 lawmakers, without giving actual numbers or disclosing who had pledged support.

The national palace and the prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his royal audience.

The latest twist in Malaysia’s protracted power struggle comes after the coronavirus pandemic saw the country’s export-driven economy post its first contraction in the second quarter since the 2009 global financial crisis.

Muhyiddin, whose seven-month-old coalition has survived on a razor-thin majority, had earlier dismissed Anwar’s claims as a “mere allegation” and told him to prove his majority through a constitutional process.

Muhyiddin came to power in March after securing a majority with the support of the United Malays National Organisation, which was defeated in the 2018 election.

His opponents have accused him of grabbing power by shifting alliances instead of earning it at the ballot box.

The king plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia but he could appoint a prime minister who in his view is likely to command a majority in parliament. He could also dissolve parliament and trigger elections on the premier’s advice.

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan and A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Martin Petty