Former defence minister and deputy premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob was on Friday named Malaysia’s ninth prime minister, to be sworn in on Saturday, replacing Muhyiddin Yassin who stood down.
According to a statement by Malaysia’s Royal Palace his nomination was confirmed by King Abdullah, who, with parliament sought nominations for the premiership from the country’s 220 lawmakers and held meetings with party leaders about who could form a government.
The monarch said he hoped the appointment would put an end to political instability, with Yaakob the third premier in three years.
His ascent marks a return to power for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant faction in the coalition that ran Malaysia from independence until a shock election loss three years ago.
Yaakob an UMNO vice president is backed by 114 lawmakers, including predecessor Muhyiddin’s small faction.
However, the slim majority could quickly be shaken if he weighs in on corruption cases involving party colleagues such as Najib, or sidelines powerful rivals when it comes to naming ministers.
Muhyiddin quit on Monday after less than 18 months in office after some UMNO parliamentarians joined the opposition in demanding he step down, in part due to Malaysia reporting record Coronavirus deaths and cases despite over 3 months of lockdown.
The Health Ministry on Friday reported more than 23,000 virus cases for the first time, the third day in a row a new record has been set.