Wednesday, October 08, 2008

PM will not defend Umno post

Wednesday October 8, 2008 MYT 9:31:45 PM
PM will not defend Umno post

Umno transition of power

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will not defend his Umno presidency in the party polls next March, paving the way for his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"I will not contest in the Umno elections," he told reporters after a Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Wednesday.

"I do not want a divided party, or a divided government," he said.

Abdullah also told reporters that he would "stay on as Prime Minister" till March.

He also outlined several initiatives he wanted to see implemented before he leaves. These will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the year, he said.

They involve his on-going commitment to reforming the judiciary; an anti-corruption Bill to give more clout to combat corruption; and the special complaints commission to revamp the police force.

By tradition, the Umno president and deputy president become the prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively. Najib is expected to run for president, and if he wins, would become the nation’s sixth prime minister.

Abdullah also said he would discuss handing over the prime minister's post to Najib after the Umno elections.

"I know I've not been doing well; it's time for someone else to take over," he said, adding that Barisan leaders have received the news well.

He said that he believes that other Barisan leaders would accept Najib as his successor and that the latter would win the Umno polls.

He added that he would not pick a deputy for his successor Najib.

Abdullah had said after a special Umno supreme council meeting on Sept 26 that he would decide by Oct 9 whether he would defend his party presidency.

At the meeting, it was also decided that the Umno general assembly and supreme council elections, scheduled for Dec 16 to 20, will be postponed to March next year to facilitate an early transition of power from Abdullah to Najib.

Abdullah had also said then that the original June 2010 plan to hand over power as Prime Minister and Umno president was now off.

"We are talking about an earlier transition, so the 2010 plan does not arise any more," he had said.

Earlier on Wednesday, groups of supporters gathered outside the Umno headquarters here ahead of Abdullah’s meeting with the supreme council.

The supporters claimed to be from Umno divisions in Perak and Johor, as well as various non-governmental organisations.

Abdullah arrived at about 3.36pm to shouts of “Hidup Pak Lah” (Long live, Pak Lah).

Supporters were also heard shouting for Abdullah to follow the transition plan instead of stepping down now.

The supporters gathered outside the Umno building were holding banners which read “Hidup Pak Lah”, “Hormati Pengalihan Kuasa” (Respect the transition of power) and “Elak Perpecahan party” (Avoid splitting the party).

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