KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Reuters) - Malaysia's biggest
political party and key ruling coalition ally UMNO on Sunday
said it will not cooperate with Prime Minister Muhyiddin
Yassin's alliance in the next national election, deepening
conflict within the ruling pact.
Muhyiddin's 13 months in office have been beset with
infighting and a leadership challenge from opposition leader
Anwar Ibrahim, amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has wrecked havoc
on the economy.
UMNO, or the United Malays National Organisation, is the
largest bloc in Muhyiddin's ruling alliance, but some of its
leaders have been unhappy playing second fiddle to the premier's
own party and have called for early elections.
Muhyiddin, who came to power with a slim majority in
parliament, declared a nationwide emergency in January to focus
efforts on fighting the pandemic, though his critics say he did
so to stay in power.
UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the party will
contest elections as part of the Barisan Nasional alliance it
leads, and not cooperate with any other parties.
"We will not be part of Perikatan Nasional as a party. This
resolution is final," Ahmad Zahid said at the party's general
assembly on Sunday referring to Muhyiddin's ruling coalition.
Elections are not due until 2023 but under pressure from
UMNO, Muhyiddin had said earlier this year he would hold
elections as soon as it was safe to do so amid the pandemic.
Some defections from the opposition have boosted his support
Ahmad Zahid said the election timing was still uncertain.
"From our viewpoint, maybe it's 2023 because they have
enough members of parliament now," he said.
Several UMNO leaders, including Ahmad Zahid, were charged
with corruption after the party lost power in the 2018 elections
- their first loss since Malaysia gained independence from the
British more than 60 years ago.
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, also from UMNO, was last
year sentenced to 12 years in jail for corruption in a case
linked to the multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.
He has consistently denied wrongdoing and has appealed the
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; writing by A. Ananthalakshmi;
Editing by Michael Perry)