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Key party in Malaysia's ruling alliance urges 'ceasefire' amid political turmoil

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Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces a challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who met Malaysia's king last week in a bid to prove he has majority support from lawmakers, including administration defectors, to form a new government.

[KUALA LUMPUR] The biggest party in Malaysia's ruling alliance called on Wednesday for a "political ceasefire" to help tackle a new surge in coronavirus infections, a week after saying it was considering withdrawing support for the government.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces a challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who met Malaysia's king last week in a bid to prove he has majority support from lawmakers, including administration defectors, to form a new government.

Mr Muhyiddin has since been in talks for a possible Cabinet reshuffle to add more members from the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), his coalition's largest party, after it threatened to withdraw, sources told Reuters.

In a statement, the party said it had agreed on a "political ceasefire" and to support Mr Muhyiddin's government by focusing on national efforts to fight the virus and help those struggling in a pandemic-battered economy.

"The cooperation of all parties in the government...must be strengthened in order to ensure political stability at a time when the country is facing the threat of Covid-19 and economic uncertainty," said the party's president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

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Public anger over widespread graft led to a general election defeat for Umno in 2018, its first since independence more than 60 years ago.

But it returned to power in March by forming an alliance with Mr Muhyiddin's Bersatu party after the government of veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad collapsed because of infighting.

Last month, Umno said some party lawmakers supported Mr Anwar's bid to be prime minister.

REUTERS

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