KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his “promise” to step down as Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister did not include Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s automatic succession to the post.
The former prime minister told Asia Times in an interview that whether Anwar became the prime minister or otherwise would have depended on the latter’s own support among lawmakers.
He said this when denying that he had preferred former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to be his successor instead of Anwar.
“No. I have made my promise. I will step down but after that, it is up to the members of Parliament to give their support to the candidate.
“They can choose Anwar, of course, but they may not want to choose Anwar. That is up to them, it’s not for me to decide,” he said.
Dr Mahathir insisted that while he could influence matters up to a point, the decision was ultimately down to PH lawmakers.
The transition plan from Dr Mahathir and Anwar had been a significant source of ill-will in PH as the former repeatedly declined to state when he would step aside for Anwar.
The matter is also believed to have triggered the collapse of the PH administration in February, as Dr Mahathir conceded in the aftermath that he was led to believe Anwar was preparing to manoeuvre against him.
Dr Mahathir resigned as the prime minister at the end of February while Bersatu pulled out of the PH coalition.
PH are again proposing a transition plan in which Dr Mahathir would be the prime minister for six months with Anwar as his deputy who will succeed him after that, as part of a campaign to regain control of the federal government.
Despite efforts from DAP and Amanah to convince Anwar that this was the best course of action, he and his PKR have flatly rejected this.