Umno rallies leaders for election


KUALA LUMPUR: Umno rallied its grassroot leaders in what may be a final gathering before the party heads into the “general election war”.

In a strong indication that the elections are close, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi directed state liaison chiefs to submit names of potential candidates within the next few days.

At the closed-door meeting, which lasted for about two hours, Umno’s 191 division heads and its Youth, Wanita and Puteri movement chiefs at the divisional level were told to put all their focus on winning the polls.

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A Johor Umno division leader, who was at the meeting, said the party president had drummed into them the importance of solidarity.

“He said we must win the election and unity is the key to winning. All differences must be set aside for Umno to move as a strong entity,” he said.

A youth chief from a division in Selangor said the election machinery has to be ready as the 15th General Election (GE15) could be called at any time now.

“Spirits were high among those who attended. We are all committed to ensuring a strong win for Umno and Barisan Nasional,” he said.

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At a press conference later, Ahmad Zahid said Umno’s “top five” would start vetting the candidates’ list from Monday.

“The criteria remain the same. The candidate must have winning qualities, be acceptable and liked by the people.

“Those who meet the criteria will be Umno and Barisan’s candidates for GE15. There will be no ‘cluster’ candidates,” he told the media.

In response to a question, he said Umno was confident the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be guided by the Federal Constitution when it comes to the issue of the dissolution of Parliament.

“We believe the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will act according to what is stated in the Federal Constitution,” he said when asked if the King could reject a request for the dissolution of Parliament.

On whether Umno had given the Prime Minister a deadline on when to seek an audience with the King to request a dissolution, Ahmad Zahid said the party had no authority on this.

“This is up to the Prime Minister. When he (the prime minister) wants to meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it is his decision and prerogative,” he said.

The Prime Minister is expected to have his regular weekly audience with the King tomorrow, and he is likely to brief him on Budget 2023, which will be tabled on Friday. They may also discuss the dissolution.

On criticism over Umno’s insistence that the general election be held this year, Ahmad Zahid said that while the party respected the views of other parties, they too should accept Umno’s stand.

He also confirmed that he met with PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang and that the matter was raised at the recent supreme council and political bureau meetings.

“The supreme council’s stand is that PAS must fulfil certain conditions if it wants to work with Umno. If not, we will go solo,” he said.

Asked if the conditions included PAS severing ties with Perikatan Nasional, the Umno president responded in the affirmative.

“That is the main condition,” he said, adding that PAS had been given a deadline to decide.

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