Umno leaders meet to discuss timing of Malaysia's general election

Umno's top five leaders (from left) vice-president Mahdzir Khalid, president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob, deputy president Mohamad Hasan and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin. PHOTO: MOHAMED KHALED NORDIN/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno leaders are meeting on Friday at the party headquarters to discuss the timing of Malaysia's general election.

The top five leaders of Malaysia's biggest political party held their meeting at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur at 4.30pm. This was followed by Umno's monthly supreme council meeting which began at 8pm.

Earlier, the party's political bureau held a meeting to discuss election preparations.

Although Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has the final say on Parliament's dissolution, he has already said he would accede to the wishes of the "top five" leaders, The Star daily reported on Friday.

The top five refers to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mohamad Hasan, and three vice-presidents Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Mahdzir Khalid and the Prime Minister himself.

After the meeting of the top five leaders, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan posted on social media that the talks had gone well. He said, "A consensus was reached for the party to move forward," but did not elaborate on what was discussed.

Malaysia's national polls are not due until September 2023, but a party faction led by Zahid has been pushing for the elections to be held in 2022 as the opposition is badly divided.

The current Parliament will be automatically dissolved on July 16, five years after its first sitting in 2018. The Election Commission would then have 60 days to mid-September to hold Malaysia's 15th General Election.

But the sitting Prime Minister can decide to dissolve Parliament any time after advising the Malaysian King to do so.

Datuk Seri Ismail is widely speculated to call for the polls some time in November, soon after the 2023 Budget is presented on Oct 7.

The opposition has been unable to reconcile their differences, with three main camps among them: the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Perikatan Nasional alliance led by former premier Muhyiddin Yassin, and a third group led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad called Gerakan Tanah Air.

The opposition says it is against holding the polls in November, citing possible annual floods.

Malaysia's annual monsoon season typically starts around November and ends as late as March.

The Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition won handsomely in Melaka state polls in November 2021 and in the Johor state election in March 2022 due to the opposition split. 

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