PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has reaffirmed that his successor will be PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, and not Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.
Tun Dr Mahathir also said that despite requests by some MPs for him to remain the prime minister until the next general election in 2023, he is committed to stepping down before that.
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in Bangkok, when asked if he would definitely pass the baton to Datuk Seri Anwar and not Datuk Seri Azmin, Dr Mahathir replied: "Yes, I will."
Dr Mahathir added: "Although there are lots of other people who have been asking me to carry on until the next election - but that is their view.
"My commitment is to step down before the next election, certainly."
The question of when, or if, Dr Mahathir, 94, would pass the premiership to Mr Anwar is a subject of heated debate in Malaysian politics in the last few months.
Dr Mahathir has said several times that he would indeed pass the baton to Mr Anwar, 72, but has refused to give a specific date. He has said that such a move would make him a lame duck prime minister.
"I cannot say whether it is two years or three years, but I will certainly step down as I promised," said Dr Mahathir, who is in Bangkok for the 35th Asean Summit.
Adding to tensions within the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition is the suspicion in Mr Anwar's camp that Dr Mahathir would eventually pass the country's leadership to Mr Azmin, 55, a rival of Mr Anwar in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
There have been calls from within PH as well as the opposition for Dr Mahathir to stay as prime minister until the end of the incumbent government's mandate.