Bring it on, Zahid tells challengers for Umno presidency

PUTRAJAYA: Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says he is always ready to face challengers for the post and believes he has the support needed to win.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Rural Development Minister, said although there will not be any elections in next week’s annual general assembly, he was prepared to be challenged for the post in the next party polls.

He also said it was up to Umno delegates to decide if its unity government ally Pakatan Harapan would be invited to the general assembly on Jan 11.

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“There are over 160,000 Umno delegates from all the divisions and they have the absolute power to decide what goes on in our annual general assemblies.

“We have not decided to invite any of the parties from the governing coalitions, but for the next one, we will write to the respective secretary-generals of the coalitions,” he told a press conference after a gathering with Rural Development Ministry staff here on Thursday (Jan 5).

On his confidence in overcoming any challenges for the presidency, he said: “I am not being arrogant… I have been challenged before.

“However, even the combined votes of my two opponents could not match my tally.”

The next Umno general assembly will be held from Jan 11 to 14.

Although there will be no elections then, it has been speculated that the president’s post will be contested at the next party polls.

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There have been calls for Ahmad Zahid to step down after a dismal showing by Barisan Nasional in GE15, including after he led the coalition to join the unity government despite an earlier Umno assembly resolution of “No Anwar (Ibrahim), no DAP”.

Umno currently has 26 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, the fewest in its history.

At the same press conference, Ahmad Zahid refused to comment when asked about a rumoured “London Move” which was said to be led by former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and the “openness” of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin to work with any governing parties.

“These are all rumours. I do not respond to rumours,” said Ahmad Zahid.