Ousted Malaysian leader Najib Razak’s party has chosen his former deputy as its new leader, party officials said Sunday, after a shocking May election loss broke its decades-old political reign.
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, 65, was elected president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) after defeating two former ministers.
Official results saw Hamidi receive 78 nominations from the party’s 191 divisions, against Khairy Jamaluddin’s 53 and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s 28.
Former prime minister Najib’s long-ruling coalition, long dogged by corruption allegations, lost the May 9 elections to a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib quit as UMNO president days later, and now faces an anti-graft probe over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Both Najib and the fund have denied any wrongdoing.
The coveted presidency of UMNO once meant a clear path to become prime minister.
But UMNO, which led the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, saw key allies desert it and in favor of Mahathir’s Pact of Hope alliance.