Umno veteran Mohamed Nazri Aziz has described the court cluster’s move to postpone party elections as a bid to prevent Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob from taking over the top post.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, the Padang Rengas MP said historically, the individual chosen as deputy prime minister would be confirmed in the Umno assembly as the party’s number two as well.
“Ismail was chosen by our own MPs to become prime minister,” he added.
“It makes no sense for him not to be made the party president as well.”
The court cluster refers to a group of Umno MPs led by their president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak who are facing a string of criminal charges in court.
Nazri said the present Umno leadership could be expected to lose if party elections were held in the near future.
He said the majority of Umno members were against their leaders regarding the date for the next general election.
“They don’t want an early election,” he said. “They are honest people who have also been affected by what is going on.
“It is only the court cluster and those who lost at the last election who want another one now.”
Zahid, at the recent Barisan Nasional (BN) convention in Kuala Lumpur, had called for the 15th general election (GE15) to be held this year.
Ismail meanwhile said the election should only be held once BN is truly prepared.
Umno amended its constitution at its special general assembly last month to allow party elections to be postponed for up to six months after a general election is held.
Nazri said he supported the amendments if they were the wish of the majority but added that they could not be implemented straight away.
“The last 18 months were for us to hold party elections, not for us to do something that we could not do under the previous constitution,” he said.
“It’s meant for the future, not to extend the terms of office-holders.”
Citing the increase in cost of basic necessities and the rising inflation, Nazri said it made no sense to hold GE15 in the near future.
Nazri, a former law minister, also said that an early election would not be easy as the proposal to dissolve Parliament would have to go through several stages of discussion among the component leaders in the government coalition.
It would also have to go through a Cabinet discussion and receive the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“An election will not be held just because Umno is calling for the dissolution of Parliament,” he said.