KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) will not be contesting the Chempaka by-election in Kelantan, but will focus on post-flood relief work in the state instead, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The seat in Chempaka became vacant after the death of assemblyman and PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat on Feb 12.
"The Umno supreme council has decided not to contest in the by-election," the Malaysian Insider quoted Mr Najib as saying after a meeting at the party's headquarters on Wednesday.
He said the decision was made after meeting Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob, according to the report.
Kelantan is still rebuilding areas devastated by floods in December, the worst that the peninsula has experienced in decades.
"There are still many more floods victims deserving help and have not received assistance. We are making this our highest priority," the news portal quoted Mr Najib as saying.
He said Umno also wanted to preserve Muslim unity in Kelantan, where the majority are Muslims and the state government is led by PAS, an Islamist party with the opposition.
"We feel that we need to work towards unity of Muslims even though we have different political persuasions, we need to prioritise the unity of believers," he was quoted as saying.
He said BN's decision not to contest the Chempaka by-election should not be disputed, as it had also chosen not to contest in previous by-elections, such as in Bukit Gelugor, according to Malaysian Insider.