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Malaysia in transition

Malaysia's Mahathir aims to form nonpartisan administration

Anwar-led coalition withdraws its support for interim prime minister

Malaysia's interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad gained enough support to be reappointed.    © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday said he will aim to form an apolitical government, even without the support of the majority of parliamentarians.

"I think rightly or not, politics and political parties need to be put aside for now. If it is possible, I will try to establish a government that is not in favor of any party," Mahathir said in a televised address.

"Politics, politicians and political parties are too obsessed with politics that they forget about the economic and health issues that threaten the country," he also said.

In the address, Mahathir apologized to the people for "the situation in the country, where politics is chaotic and may cause anxiety among the public."

After Mahathir's address, the country's largest coalition -- Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope -- declared it will endorse its leader, Anwar Ibrahim, for prime minister.

Anwar in a news conference said the coalition invited Mahathir to chair its presidential council, but Mahathir declined. "As such, on the meeting held on Tuesday, the presidential council decided to endorse me, Anwar Ibrahim, as the prime minister candidate," Anwar said.

"We await the decision from the king to decide," he added.

Mahathir tendered his resignation abruptly on Monday following an internal coup to remove Anwar from a predetermined succession plan. The 94-year-old leader continues to serve as prime minister in the interim awaiting the final decision from the monarch, who has stepped in to resolve the political impasse.

According to sources, Mahathir once sought to form a grand coalition government, but major forces in the opposition demanded a snap election. Some regional parties and the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, or Bersatu -- led by Mahathir until he resigned on Monday -- showed support for the nonagenarian. 

Under an earlier agreement, Mahathir would pass the baton to Anwar after hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in November.

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