Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and four other former members have promised to challenge their removal from the Bersatu party.
Mahathir, 94, along with his son and three other senior members, were expelled from the Bersatu party on Thursday in the latest twist in a power struggle with his successor.
“The unilateral action by Bersatu’s president to sack us without valid reason is due to his own fears in facing party elections as well as his unsafe position as the most unstable prime minister in the history of the country’s administration,” a joint statement by Mahathir and the four others said.
The party has been split into two camps since intense political wrangling led Mahathir to resign as prime minister in February and the king to appoint fellow party member Muhyiddin Yassin as his replacement despite Mahathir’s objections.
Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz Mahathir, has since challenged Muhyiddin as party president in a vote that has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mahathir co-founded Bersatu with Muhyiddin in 2016, and the party joined an alliance that claimed a stunning victory in the 2018 polls, leading to the first change of government since independence.
The ruling alliance collapsed after Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out to work with the former government, which has been accused of massive corruption. Mahathir, a two-time prime minister, resigned in protest.
Mahathir said he still has the majority support of legislators and has called for a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin.
In their statement, Mahathir and the other expelled members said they may take legal action to challenge their termination and ensure Bersatu is not used as a vehicle for those crazy for power.
Party letters sent to the five said their membership had ceased as they sat with the opposition bloc during a half-day parliament sitting on May 18. But the letter was signed by a lower official who Mahathir’s group and others said had no power to remove them.
Muhyiddin had earlier unsuccessfully tried to reconcile with Mahathir.
The current government includes the party of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is on trial on charges related to an enormous financial scandal.