Saturday, March 22, 2008

Malaysian PM's authority is challenged

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 21 (UPI) -- Malaysia's leading political party faces a split following a challenge to the leadership of Prime Minister Abdullah bin Ahmad Badawi, a published report said.

Royal prince and former finance minister Razaleigh Hamzah is mounting the challenge, which will probably be backed by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, the Financial Times reported Friday. The prime minister's United Malays National Organization recently had its least successful election in a half century, the newspaper said.

Abdullah's fight to retain authority is reportedly being hampered by claims that several National Front coalition members belonging to parliament may switch sides to support the opposition, led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Razaleigh came close to overpowering Mahathir in 1987 as part of a revolt backed by Abdullah. The power struggle has changed as Mahathir considers uniting with Razaleigh to overpower Abdullah, a Razaleigh aide said.

Mahathir, along with his son, has called for Abdullah's resignation, the Times reported.