Umno has shifted to full election mode, saying talks on its candidates for the general election will commence in the coming days, further fuelling speculation that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will have no choice but to abide by an ultimatum from fellow party leaders to announce the dissolution of Parliament despite strong protest from rival coalitions.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the candidates would be evaluated by the top leadership based on the criteria of winnability, acceptability and likeability.
"The names will be submitted to the Umno top five for discussion and negotiation," he said at a press conference after a meeting with more than 700 delegates in Kuala Lumpur today.
"Discussions will begin next Monday," he added.
On a related issue, he said Gabungan Rakyat Sabah had also committed to supporting Barisan Nasional's (BN) candidates.
On cooperation with PAS for GE15, Zahid said the Islamist party would have to cut ties with Perikatan Nasional (PN) in order to work with Umno.
He also said PAS would be allowed to use its own logo in the event that the parties decide to cooperate for the polls.
PAS presently appears to be at odds with Umno over the date of the election, with the BN component pushing for polls to be held this year.
PAS, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated its opposition to any move to hold GE15 during the end-year flood season, a view shared by PN and its chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.