Kuala Lumpur, Mar 5: Malaysia's longest-serving former premier Mahathir Mohamad has launched an aggressive campaign to oust current Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing forth a wide array of politicians and civil society activists in a broad-based coalition.
Describing the coalition as the start of a "national realignment" movement, Mahathir led a group of more than 50 politicians yesterday to sign the Citizens' Declaration, seeking the removal of Najib.
The unprecedented show of solidarity cuts across the political divide and many civil society leaders and opposition politicians have also joined their former rival Mahathir, who was Malaysia's premier for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, and largely credited for the country's fast growing economy.
The Citizens' Declaration has three main demands including removal of Najib as Prime Minister, the repeal of laws that violate fundamental rights and the restoration of institutions whose integrity has been undermined under the current regime.
It has attracted the unlikeliest of allies including opposition DAP party adviser Lim Kit Siang, who was detained under the Internal Security Act during Mahathir's tenure, PKR party deputy president Azmin Ali and Amanah president Mohamed Sabu.
Earlier on Monday, Mahathir, 90, had quit the ruling Umno party, saying he could no longer stay in Umno because the party had turned into an organisation dedicated to supporting the scandal-plagued Najib.
He also claimed that the national movement to depose Najib was "apolitical", and that Malaysians of various beliefs and ideologies should set aside their differences and sign the declaration.
"It's not about joining the opposition or any group. It's about citizens joining together to show support," said Mahathir, reading from a memorandum agreed by 58 signatories.
Najib has faced sustained pressure to resign since last year over the scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), amid allegations that funds worth USD 680 million from 1MDB had been channelled into his private accounts.
Najib maintained that he has not used the funds for personal gain, and has since been cleared of any criminal offence or corruption.