Clash for Upko presidency remains high once nomination closes on Sept 30

KOTA KINABALU: Opposition party Upko is set to know if a leadership fight is on the cards when nominations for the party election is closed on Sept 30.

Party officials were anticipating a challenge to the incumbent current president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau from party vice president vice president Datuk Ewon Benedick when nominations closed.

Party members remain tight-lipped over the nominations for the president post from the 27 divisions explaining that all nominations from the divisions for various party posts were sealed.

When contacted, Upko secretary general Nelson Anggang confirmed that the nominations for various contests for party posts including the president post would only be known after the nominations end on Sept 30.

He said the two-day party congress was scheduled to begin on Oct 15.

It is understood that both Madius and Ewon needed to get at least nine nominations from the 27 divisions to qualify to contest the presidential post.

It still remains unclear how many nominations each of them have received from the divisions.

Some party members project that Ewon had already received at least 14 nominations to contest the president post based on feedback from various party divisions.

However, other party officials said Madius was in a comfortable position to obtain the needed nine nominations and dismissed claims that Madius was struggling to get sufficient nominations to defend the president post.

"The nominations are all sealed. No one really knows who has been nominated by the divisions till it is opened.

"There is a lot of speculation, best is to wait for it," a party official, who declined to be named, said.

Others also expect either Madius or Ewon to pull out of the contest if either of them get more nominations. This would avoid a split in the party ahead of the general election.

Pressure has been mounting on Madius to step aside after the party won only one seat (Ewon in Kadamaian) during the 2020 snap Sabah elections.

Madius, the Tuaran MP, also lost his bid to win the Kiulu state seat from Parti Bersatu Sabah's (PBS) Datuk Joniston Bangkuai in the election.

The 64-year-old Madius took over the Upko presidency in 2014 from Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Madius took Upko out of Barisan Nasional after the 2018 general election to team up with the Warisan Plus government. With the fall of the Warisan government in 2020, Upko officially joined that national Pakatan Harapan straining ties with Warisan.

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