Malaysian PM retains ruling party chief uncontested

2013-09-21 13:28:31 GMT2013-09-21 21:28:31(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak retained the post as the president of the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) uncontested on Saturday, putting an end to speculation that he might face a leadership challenge after the general election in May.

As the nominations for the UMNO election next month closed on Saturday, Najib emerged as the only candidate for the president post, according to UMNO Election Committee chairman Tajol Rosli. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassim also retained the post as deputy president uncontested.

Najib and Muhyiddin nominated each other to defend the current posts to show unity among them, despite earlier speculations that Muhyiddin would launch a bid for top job.

Najib, who left for the United States on Saturday for a working visit and the United Nations General Assembly, told a press conference that the uncontested victory of him and Muhyiddin allow them to concentrate on efforts to consolidate the party and continue its policies and government administration without being pressured.

Najib took over as UMNO president and prime minister in 2009 after his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi bowed to pressure within the party to stepped down following a poor performance in the 2008 general election.

The ruling coalition, under the leadership of Najib, failed to improve in the May election as it retained power with a reduced majority, but UMNO emerged as a big winner after securing nine more seats than in the previous election.

The UMNO members are scheduled to cast votes next month to decide other top posts of the party. The vice-president post will feature a heated contest as three incumbents face challenge from three other candidates, including Mukhriz Mahathir, son of the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who remains influential in the party.

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