Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, at 94 the world’s oldest leader, submitted his resignation to the king , his office said, after a bid by his political partners to bring down the government.
In a report by AFP, Mahathir “has sent a resignation letter as prime minister of Malaysia”, said a statement from his office.
Mahathir, who previously served as premier from 1981 to 2003, had made a pre-election pledge to hand power to Anwar but has repeatedly refused to fix a date.
With the ruling coalition’s fate still uncertain on Monday morning, Mahathir’s office made the surprise announcement that he had “sent a resignation letter as prime minister of Malaysia” to the king at 1:00 pm (0500 GMT). No reason was given.
Shortly before, Mahathir’s Bersatu party announced it was leaving the ruling coalition and 11 lawmakers resigned from Anwar’s party, leaving the Pact of Hope in tatters and fuelling suggestions efforts could be underway to form a new alliance.
Despite speculation Mahathir — a wily political operator known for authoritarian tendencies during his first stint in power — was leading the push for a new coalition, Anwar insisted this was not true.
Anwar said Mahathir had assured him Monday that “he played no part in it”, adding he was “very clear that in no way will he ever work with those associated with the past regime”.