GEORGE TOWN: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said only party members can compel him to step down as the party’s head through a vote, following calls for him to resign.
Speaking to FMT, he said under Umno’s constitution, a two-thirds vote is required to remove a sitting party president from office.
“I just want to say that I was elected as Umno president — not appointed.
“Only two-thirds of this year’s annual general meeting can decide.
“This is according to the Umno constitution, for me to resign or take leave,” the parliamentary opposition leader said when contacted.
Asked about Umno leaders who had quit the party, he said: “Let them leave. Those who left Umno have no right to talk about Umno. Many others can take their place to be MP.”
Earlier, Larut MP Hamzah Zainuddin, who left with five other Umno MPs said if Zahid refused to resign in 10 days, 10 more Umno MPs will resign from the party.
Hamzah issued the warning on the “third wave” of Umno leaders leaving the party today, saying Zahid had failed to garner the confidence of the Malays and failed to fix the party’s problems.
Hamzah and five other Umno MPs left the party today.
The five were Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu); Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Shabudin Yahaya (Tasek Gelugor); Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam) and Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah).
Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa confirmed their exit.
On Wednesday, 30 MPs, assemblymen and division leaders left Sabah Umno to become independents.
Umno won 54 seats in the May 9 general election. Barisan Nasional could not form the federal government despite being in power for six decades since independence.
Several Umno MPs have already quit the party in the wake of the polls defeat, including former trade minister Mustapa Mohamed, former Puteri Umno chief Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, who applied to join PPBM this week, and Bagan Serai MP Noor Azmi Ghazali.
Earlier today, former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin supported calls for Zahid to resign as party president. Khairy lost to Zahid in the Umno presidential election in June.
In October, Umno Youth told Zahid to go on leave pending the outcome of his corruption trial.
The former deputy prime minister faces 46 charges related to criminal breach of trust, money laundering and corruption, with the latest charge made just today.
Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who heads the party’s council of advisers, said it was best for Zahid to either take leave or resign from his post as was the practice of previous Umno leaders who had been charged in court.