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Mahathir loses party support for PM job

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Malaysia's political impasse shows no sign of ending five days after the ruling coalition imploded, as interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad lost the support of his own party and the king asked for more time to resolve the situation.

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's political impasse shows no sign of ending five days after the ruling coalition imploded, as interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad lost the support of his own party and the king asked for more time to resolve the situation.

The monarch confirmed on Friday that no one person commanded majority support among lawmakers, and plans to contact leaders of political parties to give them a chance to present their nominations for prime minister, according to a statement from the palace. He agreed that parliament shouldn't meet on March 2, as was earlier proposed by Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir, who said earlier this week he would return to power if enough lawmakers back him, appeared to have lost the support of his own party -  Bersatu which has decided to submit Muhyiddin Yassin as its prime minister candidate to the king, it said Friday afternoon.

Earlier Friday, Malaysian lawmakers from across the political spectrum blasted Dr Mahathir for calling on parliament to vote on a new leader, saying the move disrespected the country's monarch.

Dr Mahathir said Thursday the king had failed to find a candidate with a clear majority in the 222-member parliament, and an election would be called if lawmakers couldn't decide on a leader in the special meeting. The king had appointed Dr Mahathir as interim prime minister following his surprise resignation this week.

Several of Malaysia's biggest political parties accused Dr Mahathir of pre-empting the king by announcing the parliament meeting before the monarch made a public statement. They included the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which has backed Dr Mahathir's rival Anwar Ibrahim for the prime minister post.

BLOOMBERG