KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has won the Umno presidency unopposed, which sets him on track to becoming the country's next Prime Minister.
He secured his 133rd nomination from the Cameron Highlands division yesterday evening and went on to pick even more nominations at the end of the day.
A candidate needs at least 58 of the 191 nominations to be eligible to contest.
By passing the 133 mark, he has denied any interested candidate the possibility of contesting because the person would not be able to secure the required 58 nominations.
This means that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who received his first nomination for the presidency on Saturday from his own Gua Musang division, is out in the cold.
Other than Gua Musang, all other divisions that have met have given their nomination to Najib for the party's top post.
The current party president, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, announced last month that he would not defend his party post and would hand over the reins of power to his successor, who he said he hoped would be Najib.
Najib has to win the party presidency to succeed Abdullah as Prime Minister. By convention in the Barisan Nasional Government, the Umno president is Prime Minister.
As at 10.30pm, Najib's tally was 140.
Other than Cameron Highlands, the Deputy Prime Minister picked up nominations yesterday from Teluk Kemang, Tawau, Ayer Hitam, Tanjung Malim, Batu Kawan, Segamat, Sekijang, Tampin, Kuala Pilah, Balik Pulau, Kapar, Indera Mahkota, Bentong, Puchong, Kulim Bandar Baru, Labuan, Klang, Teluk Intan, Kota Raja, Kota Belud, Pandan and Muar.
Najib's victory was expected. And this has made the contest for the deputy presidency all the more interesting. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is the favourite and still the lone candidate to qualify.
However, the other two aspirants for the post, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, are edging closer to the eligibility mark.
The Malacca Chief Minister, who is also an Umno vice-president, has 32 nominations and needs only seven more to qualify, while the tally for the former Selangor mentri besar, who is also the party's information chief, is 29.
A candidate for the deputy presidency needs 39 nominations to be eligible.
Interestingly, Ayer Hitam was the third division in Johor not to nominate Johorean Muhyiddin for the deputy presidency.
The former Johor mentri besar only got 25 votes against Mohd Ali's whopping 310 votes for the nomination.
All divisions in Malacca nominated Mohd Ali for the deputy post, while in Selangor all divisions except for Shah Alam picked Muhammad.