Malaysian PM gets party nod to stay in power
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak faced down a threat to his leadership after nominations closed on Saturday without anybody contesting his presidency of the ruling party, officials said.
His government suffered its worst performance ever in May elections, prompting speculation that former leader Mahathir Mohamad, who continues to be highly influential in Mr Najib's party, would back a challenger for the presidency of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno).
Ahmad Maslan, Umno information chief, said on Twitter: "Congratulations to Umno president Najib and deputy president Muhyiddin (Yassin) who won without contest at 5pm this evening." Mr Najib, who will get at least another three years in the top job, said in a televised interview with CNBC Friday: "All indications are that the party is solidly behind me. They believe that the policies are indeed going to be good for the country." The Umno dominates the ruling coalition which has governed since the Malay Muslim-majority country gained independence in 1957.
Mr Najib came to power in 2009 after his predecessor, under heavy pressure from Mr Mahathir, was forced to step down following Umno's unprecedented loss of five state governments and its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority the previous year.