Muhyiddin Yassin has been sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister in Kuala Lumpur in a ceremony boycotted by Mahathir Mohamad, the previous prime minister, who claims he has a majority of MPs endorsing his return as premier.
The swearing-in capped a week of turmoil that began with Mahathir’s resignation in an apparent bid to consolidate power, but ended with him sidelined and complaining of betrayal after decades dominating Malaysian politics.
Muhyiddin’s appointment was announced by King Abdullah of Pahang on Saturday afternoon.
Though the monarchy is largely ceremonial, the king can name a prime minister who he thinks “likely” to command a majority in parliament, which in practice usually reflects election results.
In turn, Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope coalition that made up the previous government published a list of 114 parliamentarians who they said backed Mahathir, two more than the number needed for a majority.
Mahathir on Sunday described the the appointment of Muhyiddin as “strange” and said the king refused to entertain his claim of majority support.
Dozens of MPs who support Mahathir met in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning as Mahathir told a press conference that he feels betrayed by Muhyiddin.
The pair set up their now-split Bersatu party ahead of 2018 elections. “He was working on this for a long time and now he has succeeded,” Mahathir said.
The anointing of Muhyiddin, a 73 year old who has been a parliamentarian since 1978 and was deputy prime minister to disgraced former premier Najib Razak, comes after a fraught and intrigue-laden week marred by shifting alliances.
Mahathir said on Sunday that Muhyiddin would face an immediate vote of no-confidence when Malaysia’s parliament reconvenes on March 9.
– with AAP