KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he agreed to Umno's call for the general election to be held this year without setting any preconditions.
Some speculated that Datuk Seri Ismail - who became premier just 13 months ago on Aug 21 - wanted to strengthen his political position as premier before calling for the polls, and would have bargained with his party to be named prime minister again should Umno win federal power.
On Saturday, Mr Ismail disclaimed this, saying: "I did not give any conditions. We had the Umno top five meeting, the political bureau meeting and the supreme council meeting before we decided (on when to call the election)."
He said the top five Umno leadership - which as a party vice-president he is a part of - on Friday night reached a consensus on holding the polls this year, as there was a need to return the mandate to the people as soon as possible.
"We have always stated that there is a need to hasten the general election as we want to return the mandate to the people," he told reporters after attending an official event.
He added: "If there is a good basis to hold the snap polls, we will agree to it, that was our stand.
"As for the date (of dissolution of Parliament), please wait. You have waited since last year, you can wait a little more this year."
Mr Ismail had previously said he wanted to concentrate on improving the post-Covid economy first and reducing rising inflation, before calling the 15th general election, which is not due until September next year.
But on Friday he switched his position and agreed with the other top four Umno leadership to call for polls before the year is out.
The top five leaders of Malaysia's biggest political party are party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mohamad Hasan, and the three vice-presidents - Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and Mr Ismail himself.
The polls are widely speculated to be planned for November by Umno, with Parliament dissolved soon after the Oct 7 presentation of next year's Budget.
On Friday, the Umno supreme council said the Prime Minister would be meeting the Malaysian King soon to advise him on the date for Parliament's dissolution to pave the way for the next general election.
The opposition is bitterly opposed to holding polls at the end of the year, saying much of the country could be flooded due to the annual monsoon season.
The rainy season typically starts around November and lasts till March.
Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said on Saturday that the party will hold a special meeting on Tuesday at party headquarters to discuss the latest development.
"All division chiefs, Women, Youth and Puteri (young women) division leaders are invited to attend the event," he said in a letter. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK