KUALA LUMPUR, May 14 — Umno is being plagued by internal unrest in Melaka even as the Malay nationalist party gears up for a snap general election, widely speculated will be called this year.

Malaysiakini today reported several Melaka Umno divisions want Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali to replace Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh who is party state chief to resolve its leadership woes.

“We will have to hold a meeting first. It will be this week, probably tomorrow. 

“It has been the wish of the party grassroots to see a better and smoother coordination between the party leadership and the [state] government,” Tangga Batu Umno chief Datuk Seri Mohamad Ali Mohamad told the news site.

The news portal reported that the Alor Gajah Umno division had already met earlier this week after which its acting chief Datuk Rospandi Leman announced that members want Sulaiman to lead the state chapter instead of Rauf.

Ali is also Melaka Umno deputy chief; he indicated that other divisions may call for similar meetings on replacing Rauf with Sulaiman. 

Melaka Umno has six divisions in total: Alor Gajah, Tangga Batu, Masjid Tanah, Hang Tuah Jaya, Kota Melaka and Jasin.

According to news reports, the problems in Melaka Umno is because Sulaiman does not have a significant position in the party despite leading the state government whereas Rauf who holds the top post in the state chapter allegedly wants to be chief minister too.

Added to that, Rauf also heads the Masjid Tanah Umno division, of which Sulaiman is a committee member.

“The only solution to this is to either make Rauf the chief minister or make Sulaiman the state Umno chief,” an unnamed Umno insider was quoted as saying.

But changing the party’s leader is not so straightforward even if all the party divisions agree to it because the Umno constitution places the prerogative in the hands of the party president.

Another road bump, according to Malaysiakini, is the party’s unwritten rule to choose its state chief from elected division leaders. 

Citing an unnamed Umno insider, Malaysiakini reported a plan to get Sulaiman to challenge Rauf for the Masjid Tanah Umno division chief post in the party election due by December.

But whether Umno’s internal election proceeds on schedule will also depend on the party’s extraordinary general meeting tomorrow.

There has been talk that the EGM may decide to defer the party polls to after GE15.