Umno leaders deny proposed changes to constitution linked to internal power struggle

KUALA LUMPUR – Umno’s acting president Mohamad Hasan said proposed amendments to the party’s constitution are not aimed at ousting some leaders or to prevent their comeback.

He was responding to news reports about planned amendments that would disqualify leaders convicted of crimes from taking up party posts.

The move to make the changes has raised speculation that the party now led by Datuk Seri Mohamad wanted them to oust president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is on leave from his position, and to block tainted ex-president Najib Razak from again taking up a top post.

Both Zahid and Najib are facing multiple court charges, including over abuse of power, money laundering and corruption.

“The question of removing anyone from their positions in Umno through amendments to the party constitution does not arise,” said Mr Mohamad, who is carrying out the duties of Zahid.

“There is no attempt at pushing out anyone,” he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper on Thursday (May 30).

Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin also denied the proposed constitutional changes were aimed at certain individuals, or that there is a power struggle, Malay Mail online news reported on Thursday.

Umno president Zahid, facing an internal revolt for weak leadership soon after taking over from Najib in May last year, had to temporarily vacate his position and allowMohamad as acting president.

There has been speculation in recent weeks that Zahid wanted back his old position. His critics want him to step down and hand over the party to Mr Mohamad.

And meantime, Najib has become the most popular Umno leader today despite his multiple court cases linked to the 1MDB scandal.

This has caused uneasiness to some in the party that is keen to start on a clean slate.

Acting Umno president Mr Mohamad said on Thursday that the head of the Constitution Amendment Committee Datuk Seri Khaled, was appointed by Zahid himself.

Mr Khaled is compiling responses from all states on the proposed changes, and this will be discussed by the top policy making body, the Umno supreme council.

“The supreme council would bring those proposed amendments to the extraordinary general meeting to be debated by the delegates from all over the country in conjunction with the annual general assembly in November.

“What we want to see from the amendments to the Umno constitution is that Umno is more open and it is easier for everyone and anyone who wants to be a member,” said Mr Mohamad, as quoted by The Star.

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