In a blow to former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president Azmin Ali, close allies who control Malaysia's richest state Selangor have opted to stay in the party despite their mentor walking out with 10 other MPs.
The former economic affairs minister is a key mover of the so-called National Alliance that coalesced on Sunday to form a wider coalition including opposition parties such as Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
The coalition aimed to ensure that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad serve out a full term as premier instead of handing power over to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, as agreed within Pakatan Harapan (PH) prior to its winning the May 2018 election.
But the move has stalled after Dr Mahathir resigned as both prime minister and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman on Monday, apparently in protest against plans to invite Umno back into government less than two years after the end of its six-decade rule.
While Datuk Seri Azmin has often had the support of at least 15 of the other 49 MPs in PKR, not all joined him in exiting the party, which said he had been sacked for "an open act of betrayal".
On Monday, Selangor Chief Minister Amirudin Shari, a protege of Mr Azmin, told assemblymen from PKR that the state administration would remain stable.
"We hope ties with Azmin won't be broken but we are loyal to Keadilan (PKR) and PH as well as the mandate from the public," an aide to the Menteri Besar told The Straits Times.
Datuk Seri Amirudin confirmed this in a statement yesterday, saying that he, as PKR Selangor chief, has had an audience with the Selangor Sultan, along with the state chairmen of other PH components, the Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara.
"His Royal Highness was satisfied with the explanation that the existing government intends to continue its commitment to realise the mandate of the people of Selangor in the 2018 General Election and consented for the Selangor government to resume as normal," he said.
Mr Azmin was the previous Selangor chief minister, and was widely influential in what is a PKR stronghold.
But other Selangor PKR leaders aligned with Mr Azmin, including Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah and central leadership councillor and Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah, have decided to stay in PKR.
"If reorganising the coalition is necessary, it must only be done by consensus. Pakatan Harapan's spirit of shared prosperity and realising democratic reforms must be maintained," Ms Chin, who was formerly chief of electoral reforms group Bersih, said in a statement on Monday.
Should other colleagues in the Azmin faction, which won two-thirds of the leadership positions at the last PKR polls, remain in the party, it would severely weaken Mr Azmin's position in the current state of political uncertainty.