UMNO announced on Thursday, July 30, that it will not formally join the ruling Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) coalition.
Party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former Deputy Prime Minister, said that they would instead focus on strengthening their bond with the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
UMNO and other smaller parties that made up the Barisan Nasional coalition came together with PAS to form a new coalition, called Muafakat Nasional (National Consensus), back in September 2019.
According to Malaysiakini, Ahmad Zahid said during the Thursday press conference:
"Umno has decided to not join PN, instead we will strengthen Muafakat Nasional together with PAS and BN component parties.
Our support for the PN government was only based on support from Umno and BN MPs and assemblypersons to form the federal government and certain state governments."
He also released the same statement on his Facebook page:
Decision made after Najib Razak's verdict
Ahmad Zahid clarified that this does not mean that UMNO will pull out from the government.
Instead, it indicates that if Perikatan Nasional were to be registered as an official coalition, UMNO would not be a component member.
The decision comes after former UMNO leader and Prime Minister Najib Razak was handed a jail sentence for charges related to SRC International and the 1MDB scandal.
When asked if UMNO's decision had anything to do with the verdict, Ahmad Zahid said this was "up to the media to interpret."
Bersatu to join Muafakat Nasional?
Earlier in the day, UMNO supreme council member Tajuddin Abd Rahman said that Bersatu (Muhyiddin's party) would instead join Muafakat Nasional.
He added that a charter would be signed soon between them. According to the Star Online, he said:
"Muhyiddin already informed us that Bersatu will join Muafakat Nasional. So if that happens, Muafakat Nasional will be Barisan Nasional, PAS and Bersatu."
He also said he would welcome the move to help stabilise politics in the country.
Top image from Muhyiddin and Ahmad Zahid's Facebook pages.