Anwar says pleaded with Dr Mahathir not to quit

Malaysia's politician Anwar Ibrahim leaves People's Justice Party headquarters after a meeting in Petaling Jaya Malaysia

Malaysia in turmoil as Anwar denounces bid to bring down government

He said this was despite the "extraordinary-developments" that had seen Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's resignation as prime minister and surprise reinstatement as interim PM.

"Mahathir clearly stated that he can not work with UMNO when we worked so hard to reject UMNO successfully in the 2018 general elections", he said, adding his party would nominate Mahathir to continue as prime minister.

His coalition partner and designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim said that he had appealed to Dr Mahathir to stay as Prime Minister in his meeting with the 94-year-old leader earlier in the day.

Anwar served as deputy prime minister and finance minister during Mahathir's first 22-year stint in office under UNMO, but was sacked in 1998 after falling out over how to defend the economy against the Asian financial crisis.

Mahathir "has sent a resignation letter as prime minister of Malaysia", said a statement from his office.

Mahathir had been under pressure from Anwar's supporters to set a clear timetable for ceding power, but he had refused.

It prosecuted former prime minister Najib Razak for corruption in the 1MDB scandal, and promised policies that aimed at helping Malaysians of all races rather than just the Malay majority.

As political tensions surged, Mahathir's Bersatu party quit the ruling coalition and several lawmakers resigned from Anwar's party, leaving the Pact of Hope in tatters and fuelling suggestions efforts could be underway to form a rival alliance. "So he had to work with otherwise unsavory opposition parties to form a working parliamentary majority to counter and warn off Anwar", said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

In 2018, Mahathir and Anwar put aside their longstanding rivalry to fight together to defeat Najib and his UMNO party, which forms the largest constituent in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

Startling political maneuvers have sparked expectation that Mahathir will pull his Bersatu party out of the four-member ruling alliance and team with his former foes to form a new government in a major political upheaval that could further polarize the multiracial nation. "All of them have signed the oath to continue to support and trust Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia", the PPBM president said. Some in the opposition have also agreed to support him.

The turmoil, amid growing fears about a spreading coronavirus, had spooked investors, driving Kuala Lumpur's benchmark to a 10-year low, while the ringgit currency slid 0.7 per cent to an nearly six-month low, its sharpest drop in over three years.

"It becomes quite hard for Malaysia to bring foreign investors back", Jolynn Kek, head of equity at BOS Wealth Management Malaysia, said, pointing to more political stability and economic growth among its neighbours.

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