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Najib turns down proposal to become de facto Umno leader

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Former premier Najib Abdul Razak has turned down the proposal for him to made de facto Umno leader, while Ahmad Zahid Hamidi takes a break from the party's presidency.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, the former Umno president also expressed full support for Mohamad Hasan, in assuming the duties of party president.

"The decision by Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi to hand over the reins to his deputy president is a noble one that transcends his personal interests and prioritises that of the party.

"As the president who was democratically elected by the party, this was a huge sacrifice and not an easy one for him (Zahid) to take. However, I am confident that Tok Mat (Mohamad) will be able to handle the duties of the party president," Najib said.

"He (Mohamad) has the vision, leadership, and the trust of leaders and grassroots to stabilise and rebuild Umno," he added.

Yesterday, Zahid caved in to pressure within the party following the exodus of Umno lawmakers and announced that he was taking leave as Umno president.

In his absence, Mohamad will be carrying out his duties, said the Bagan Datuk MP.

Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam had then proposed that Najib be appointed as de facto leader of Umno, as well as the opposition leader, in Zahid's absence. 

Najib, Lokman said, was an experienced leader who commanded the respect of BN MPs who have yet to defect, and those who have.

'No intention to lead'

Commenting on this, Najib said that he has indeed, over the past week, been approached by many Umno leaders and members who asked him to take over the party's reins or become its de facto leader.

"I thank all for the trust given, but I have no intention, nor wish, to become the de facto party leader.

"As I have said before, my priority now is to clear my name in the charges against me, continuing to speak up for the rakyat, prioritise their problems and clarify issues that have impact on the people and the country.

"However, I'm always willing to help and give full support to Tok Mat, and the Umno leadership, should there be a request, or the need for it," said Najib.

The Pekan MP is facing 39 charges for money laundering, abuse of power, and criminal breach of trust, among others, following Umno/BN's colossal loss in the May 9 general election.

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