Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad submitted his resignation to the country’s king on Monday, his office announced, a shock move that could plunge the country into political crisis.
The surprise announcement comes amid speculation that 94-year-old Mahathir was attempting to form a new ruling coalition that would exclude his promised successor Anwar Ibrahim.
It is not clear who will be the next Prime Minister or whether general elections will be held.
Mahathir’s party, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu) announced Monday it would be dropping out of the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan in support of the prime minister.
“All members of the House of Representatives of the party are also out of Pakatan Harapan. All of them have signed the Oath to continue to support and trust Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister of Malaysia,” according to a statement from Bersatu President Muhyiddin Yassin.
Deepening the political turmoil, Malaysia’s Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin were both fired from Anwar’s People’s Justice Party earlier Monday.
Nine other lawmakers declared their allegiance to the ousted pair and left the party as well, according to a statement from the lawmakers. The 11 lawmakers also announced that they are forming an independent block in parliament.
It follows meetings over the weekend between lawmakers of the ruling coalition and members of the former ruling party United Malays National Organization (UMNO), over alleged plans to form a new government, according to local news reports.
In response, Anwar called out “traitors” within his own party and accused members of Mahathir’s party of plotting a change in the current ruling coalition.
“We know there are attempts to bring down PH and form a new government,” Anwar said.
Speaking at his party headquarters Monday, Anwar said he had met with the Prime Minister and told him that, “this treachery could be dealt with together.”
“Those from my party and outside are using his name. He reiterated what he said to me earlier. He had no part in it. He made it very clear in no way would he work with those in the past regime,” Anwar said.