By Pizaro Gozali Idrus
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AA) - Malaysia’s interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Thursday that parliament will decide the country’s next prime minister.
Mahathir, who stepped down as Malaysia’s seventh premier last Monday, told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, that a parliament session will be convened in early March where lawmakers will vote for the next government head.
“March 2 parliament session will determine who gets majority support to become next prime minister,” said Mahathir. “Whoever wins, I will accept as prime minister.”
In an address to nation Wednesday, the world’s oldest elected leader said he was aware his vision for a new government would draw a lot of criticism.
"I am not seeking something that will please many people. I will do what I think is best for the country," he said. “Whether it is right or wrong, politics and political parties have to be set aside for the time being.”
Mahathir also revealed he could not accept the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) as part of the government as the reason for his resignation.
The UMNO is Malaysia’s largest opposition party and part of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that ruled for decades but was defeated in the 2018 general elections.
Soon after his resignation, he was appointed interim premier by Malaysia’s king.
“If somebody gets a majority to become prime minister, then he is in a position to choose members of Cabinet,” Mahathir said, reiterating his stand to form a unity government with a non-partisan Cabinet.
“Then he can choose any member not tied to any party; it will be a unity government, all parties will have representatives in the government, other persons can also be co-opted to become part of the government,” Mahathir added.
Earlier Thursday, Mahathir returned as chairman of the United Malays Indigenous Party (Bersatu) after resigning from the office earlier this week.
"He agreed to return to lead Bersatu," party secretary general Marzuki Yahya said in a statement that indicated the decision was made after the party leaders rejected Mahathir’s resignation and urged him to return as a chairman.