PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says he will step down from office within three years, and hand over the reins to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim.
"As far as I'm concerned, I have made a promise that I will step down and that Anwar will succeed me," the Prime Minister told CNBC in an interview last Saturday (June 22) in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was attending an Asean summit.
Tun Dr Mahathir had said that the government needs three years to reduce Malaysia's debt from 80 per cent of gross domestic product to 54 per cent.
When asked whether he would stay in office to see out that goal, Dr Mahathir said: "No, I will not go beyond three years."
He said his priority is to enable Malaysia to "resolve this (debt) problem" even after he steps down.
The issue of power transition has been brought to the fore recently, as no formal time frame has been set for it to happen.
In February, Datuk Seri Anwar said he expected to be prime minister in no more than two years' time, adding that Dr Mahathir must be given enough space to govern effectively during "very difficult and trying times".
Prior to the 14th General Election, Pakatan Harapan component parties reportedly agreed that if they won, Dr Mahathir would be the premier for two years before handing over the reins to Mr Anwar.