Malaysian PM agrees with deputy on leadership change

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Singapore, Jun 14 (UNI) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has reached an agreement with his deputy Najib Tun Razak over the timing for a leadership change.

He assured Malaysians yesterday that Mr Najib was not challenging his leadership of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) led national coalition of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Meanwhile, Mr Najib on a trip to London also reaffirmed his commitment to the Prime Minister and pledged to work on rebuilding UMNO, which as senior partner in BN, has been under pressure following its one of the worst general election performance on March 8, 2008.

Mr Abdullah is expected to step down as the Prime Minister and UMNO president as well as head of the BN, according to media reports.

''The leadership change will definitely take place at the right time,'' he told senior government officials and community leaders in Kelantan on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

According to the reports, Mr Abdullah plans to step down in 2010. The results of March elections have left opposition in a stronger position with 88 of the 220 seats in parliament.

UMNO and other BN components including the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress are being blamed for leaving the minority communities out of the country's prosperity while favouring the indigenous Malays.

The BN has ruled the country with more than two-third majority since independence.

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