Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he has presented to the nation’s king a list of lawmakers who will back him in a bid to form a new government.
Anwar told reporters Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur that he gave King Abdullah the names of 120 members of the 222-seat parliament who are ready to defect from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s razor-thin ruling coalition.
He urged Malaysians to be patient while the king reviews the evidence, but he said it would be “appropriate” for Prime Minister Muhyiddin to resign.
But the royal palace later released a statement saying Anwar only told the king the number of lawmakers who will support his takeover bid without revealing their identities, and urged him to respect the constitutional process.
No major party has openly offered their support for Anwar’s bid.
Malaysia has been under a cloud of political chaos since February, when then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned and his government collapsed. King Abdullah named Muhyiddin as prime minister after meeting with all 222 lawmakers to determine who they supported to take the post.
If the king decides that Anwar does have sufficient support to become prime minister, it would fulfill a two-decade long quest for the job. He was once Mahathir’s deputy and likely successor during the elder man’s first tenure as prime minister, but was banished after a power struggle with Mahathir. He was later convicted of sodomy and spent nearly a decade in prison.
He and his supporters have long denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.