Malaysian state leader to quit following bitter row

Malaysian state leader to quit following bitter row
Tan Sri Khalid (above)

KUALA LUMPUR - The governor of Malaysia's most populous state said Tuesday he would resign after a weeks-long bitter political impasse over calls for his removal, which threatened to split apart the country's fast-rising opposition.

Khalid Ibrahim, chief minister of the opposition-controlled industrial hub of Selangor, was expelled from the party of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim earlier this month for refusing party instructions to vacate his appointed post.

The move could help lower temperatures in the row, which set Anwar's People's Justice Party and the Democratic Action Party against their Islamic party partner in a formidable tripartite opposition coalition.

The Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) had pledged its support for Khalid, bringing the opposition coalition to the brink until PAS reversed course under pressure on August 17.

The multi-racial, multi-faith opposition alliance known as Pakatan Rakyat (People's Pact) won the state in 2008 polls, the jewel in a recent haul of election gains that has put severe pressure on the country's long-ruling, Muslim-dominated government.

Khalid, now an independent, will continue administering the state until the opposition can get a replacement approved by the state's sultan.

Anwar is pushing for his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, a widely respected longtime politician, to assume the post.

But it is unclear whether she will get the nod, amid pushback from some elements in PAS, and the issue could spark yet more opposition infighting.

Anwar was originally rumoured to be seeking the post, which would have given the charismatic campaigner a powerful pulpit ahead of the next elections expected by 2018.

But he was ruled out due to a controversial March conviction on sodomy charges that he says are false and orchestrated by the government.

Malaysia has been dominated since 1957 independence by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), but the party has seen its support slide amid accusations of corruption, bruising political tactics and racial discrimination.

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