Members of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) re-elected Mr Mohamad Sabu as deputy president, giving him a narrow victory over his conservative rival in party polls yesterday.
Mr Mohamad garnered 588 votes to 490 by his challenger Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, the Deputy Menteri Besar of Kelantan, at the biennial party congress which laid bare deep strains between its factions.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, a dour cleric, was unchallenged, while results for the three vice-presidents' posts will be announced today after a recount - a first in PAS history.
Unofficial results named popular cleric Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as a winner of one vice-presidential post, while another cleric, Mr Abu Bakar Chik, was said to have lost. That gives two remaining vice-presidential positions to incumbents - both from the party's liberal-leaning faction.
Nearly 1,300 delegates voted in the congress held at an indoor stadium in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state.
The three-day congress was widely watched as PAS has been deeply riven in recent years following tensions between the increasingly assertive ulamas or clerics, and the liberal "Anwarinas" or the pro-Anwar faction, who want PAS to expand its appeal on the national level, supported by non-Muslim voters.
Mr Mohamad, seen as the unofficial leader of the Anwarinas, wants to work closer with federal opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) led by Anwar Ibrahim.
At a press conference on Saturday, he said he would not celebrate his victory as he considered the contest against Datuk Mohd Amar a "friendly one".
"We respect each other and will remain united in the party. I will continue to work with the party president and my newly elected party colleagues," Mr Mohamad said, according to The Star news portal.
In the contest for the 18 PAS central working committee posts announced yesterday, 11 Anwarinas won compared to seven ulamas. This is a reversal of the result from the party's elections two years ago when there were 10 ulamas and eight liberals.