Umno man moots PKR-style top post for Najib after Zahid takes leave

Former Umno president Najib Razak has been mooted as the party’s de facto leader following Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s decision to take leave. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: An Umno Supreme Council member has suggested that Najib Razak be named the party’s de facto and opposition leader, a role similar to that previously held by PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim.

Lokman Noor Adam’s proposal follows Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s decision to take leave from his presidential duties amid claims that the former deputy prime minister is to blame for the recent mass exit of Umno members.

In a statement, Lokman said the appointment of a de facto leader was vital to ensure that Umno remained stable.

“This is in view of the fact that more than half of the Umno members who voted for the president cannot accept the leadership of a deputy president who never once defended the president when calls were made for him to go on leave,” he said, referring to Mohamad Hasan who has taken over Zahid’s duties.

Zahid announced last night that he was handing over the reins to Mohamad with immediate effect following the “turmoil faced by the party”.

The past week has seen Umno lose many of its MPs, assemblymen and divisional leaders who blamed Zahid for their exit, saying there was a lack of direction in the party.

They are expected to join PPBM once their applications are approved.

Zahid, who is Bagan Datuk MP, said he hoped his decision would put an end to the polemics surrounding the party’s leadership. He also urged Umno leaders to focus on strengthening the party.

PKR created the de facto leader post for Anwar in 2007. Newly released from prison, he was unable to be made party president as he was barred from involvement in active politics for five years.

The post was abolished last month after he won the PKR presidency uncontested.