9 Oct 2008

Malaysian PM to quit in March

6:31 am on 9 October 2008

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced that he will step down from office in March.

The move will effectively hand power of the ruling National Front coalition, and therefore the job of prime minister, to his deputy Najib Razak.

Mr Abdullah has been under pressure to quit since disastrous election results earlier this year.

He has faced discontent within his own party, and also an increasingly strong opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Mr Abdullah resisted pressure to resign in the immediate aftermath of the election result in March, in which the government lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since Malaysian independence.

Many of Umno's traditional supporters from the majority Malay community switched allegiance to Anwar Ibrahim's multiracial coalition, the People's Alliance.

Mr Anwar is now threatening to bring down the government with parliamentary defections from the National Front.