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Umno AGM in November, polls next year?

 | September 20, 2012

The move again throws the question on the polls date up in the air.

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno president Najib Tun Razak today continued to leave everyone guessing on when polls will be held when he said the party’s annual general assembly will take place in November.

“It is up to you to make whatever interpretations you want to make,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno’s supreme council meeting here.

The Barisan Nasional chairman also said that party elections, which are supposed to be held at this year’s AGM, will not take place, a move strongly suggesting that Najib is looking at a 2013 date to hold the 13th general election.

But when asked to confirm this, Najib said that he would leave it to speculation, adding that the decision on the polls date is still within his purview.

“Even if I have set a date [for the AGM], I can still postpone it,” he said when asked if the decision to hold the meeting would invite speculation that national polls will be held next year.

“Let them speculate. I like them to speculate,” he joked when pressed further on the matter.

Observers, however, have warned the prime minister against delaying polls to next year while some have urged him to hold it this year when Malaysia is capable of weathering the global economic storm which has yet to see the worse.

Delay is detrimental

Several dates have been bandied about since he took office in April 2009 and rumours were strong that he would hold it sometime this year, but numerous political setbacks have allegedly forced him to stretch the current term.

Umno sources speaking to FMT said one of the major hindrances for an early date was the factional fighting over candidates although some of its leaders denied the allegation.

This was said to be one of the major causes behind the ruling coalition’s record losses in the last general election.

Najib, an unelected prime minister, now faces the task of restoring Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds mandate, but analysts predict a tough ride for the Umno’s seventh president as he will lead a split party into its tightest election.

Yesterday influential former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a gloomy outlook on Najib’s chances, saying he would likely lead a weak government despite surviving the polls.

A recent survey showed Najib’s popular rating hovering just above the 50% mark, but analysts warned that this does not necessarily translate into votes for the current government.

The prime minister will also likely use Budget 2013, to be tabled next week, as his final weapon to give his election chances a big push.


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