KONFRONTASI-Malaysia's interim leader Mahathir Mohamad has said parliament will pick a new prime minister next week following the collapse of the ruling alliance and snap elections will be called if the vote ends in an impasse.
Mahathir, who met the king earlier on Thursday, said the monarch could not find a candidate with a clear majority to lead the nation after consulting all 222 legislators over the last two days.
As such, he said, the king decided to have the lower house of parliament vote on a new leader on March 2.
"If the lower house fails to find a person with the majority, then we will have to go for a snap election," Mahathir told a news conference.
A failed bid by Mahathir's supporters to form a new government without his designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim, and Mahathir's shock resignation on Monday broke apart the ruling alliance less than two years after it defeated a corruption-tainted coalition that had led the country for 61 years.
Both Mahathir and Anwar are vying for the premiership, renewing a political feud that stretches back more than 20 years.
"The king is obviously being very cautious. He decided not to give Anwar or Mahathir to form a government and let the MPs decide," said James Chin, head of the Asia Institute at Australia's University of Tasmania. "This means horsetrading will carry on all weekend until Monday morning."