Sunday, June 18, 2017

Anwar: I will not seek position as Harapan's PM candidate

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Jailed de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim has announced he will not offer himself as Pakatan Harapan's candidate for prime minister, despite many in PKR seeing this as a given.

The symbolic move, Anwar said, is to encourage Harapan to focus on the general election instead of squabbling over who will be prime minister if the opposition coalition wins.

"With regard to the calls to focus full attention on the general election, therefore, I choose not to offer myself as a prime ministerial candidate.

"The friction (over who will be prime minister) is exhausting (the opposition), as the final decision lies with the people in the general election," he said in a statement released today through his party.

Anwar urged Harapan to pour all its efforts into more pressing matters, saying that Harapan's attention must be fixed on national policies, the ravages of the system, and on winning the 14th general election.

"Side issues such as the struggle for power and position, or a war of words in Harapan cannot be allowed," he said.

After Bersatu, an Umno splinter party, formally joined the opposition coalition in March, it had lobbied for Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate.

Bersatu later even explored the possibility of party chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad making a brief comeback as prime minister.

However, PKR had been adamant that Anwar was its anointed prime ministerial candidate and that its president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is Anwar's wife, would act as interim head of government pending his release from prison if the opposition won the next general election.

PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli had even outlined an elaborate plan on how Anwar could return to politics, which would involve a royal pardon and a by-election.

DAP and Parti Amanah Negara have also been supportive of the idea that Anwar should ultimately be the prime minister if the opposition wins.

The Federal Court in Feb 2015 upheld Anwar's conviction for sodomy, sentencing him to five years in prison.

Anwar, who insists that the charge was politically motivated, is expected to be freed by the middle of 2018 on good behaviour.

However, he will still be banned from entering politics for five years, making it impossible for him to make an immediate comeback unless he receives a royal pardon.

The next general election must be held at latest within 60 days after the 13th Parliament dissolves in June 2018. However, BN may call the election earlier.

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