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Malaysia in transition

Malaysia's Anwar denies leadership conflict with Mahathir

Prime minister-in-waiting says succession plan remains intact

Anwar Ibrahim is due to take over as prime minister from Mahathir Mohamad in 2020.

KUALA LUMPUR -- Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's anointed successor, on Monday tried to quell rumors about a conflict within the ruling alliance that could impede his path to the job he was promised.

The 71-year-old lawmaker is due to take over from Mahathir in 2020 under a political deal which unified an opposition camp that went on to unseat former Prime Minister Najib Razak last May.

But since the election, no definite timeline has emerged for the handover of the prime minister's job, other than Mahathir's verbal promise of "in about two years." This has led to speculation about a challenge to Anwar's ascent.

"We recognize there are forces which would like to see us fail," Anwar said, adding that the succession plan has been resolved within the ruling coalition.

The political rumor mill has been inundated with chatter that Azmin Ali, a senior minister and Anwar's deputy in the People's Justice Party, might hinder the succession plan. Azmin has denied them. "Stop," he was quoted as saying by the news site Malaysiakini on Sunday. "People are sick and tired when the political leaders keep on talking about politics."

Mahathir himself has denied a recent news report about infighting among his cabinet ministers. "Many think this is a coalition that is weak," Mahathir said on Friday. "It isn't, we are very strong."

On Monday, Anwar reiterated his support for Mahathir, insisting that the 93-year-old be given the "space and support" to lead.

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