Badawi to contest for UMNO presidency

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Singapore, Jun 16 (UNI) Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reiterated that he will defend in December his presidency of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which leads a multi-party coalition government under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner.

He stressed there was no reason for him not to defend the post and he had no immediate plans to step down from the government leadership.

Mr Badawi also emphasised that there was no specific date set for him to hand over the leadership to his deputy Najib Tun Razak.

''Nothing has been agreed on the transition date and there was no plan for it to happen in the next one, two or three months,'' Mr Abdullah told mediapersons in the new Malaysian federal capital of Putrajaya yesterday.

He has been under tremendous pressure to resign after the BN failed to retain two-third majority in the March general elections.

His government was also facing protests following the government's recent decision to reduce fuel oil subsidies.

Political observers expect Mr Abdullah to be re-elected as president of the UMNO and chairman of the BN. They believe he would also retain the primeministership in December electon.

Following which he is expected to work out a smooth transition of power to Mr Razak while rebuilding the embattled UMNO, which lost five states to the opposition in the elections.

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