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Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim set to meet king in challenge for premiership

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is set to meet with the king on Tuesday to prove he had parliamentary support needed to replace Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Anwar added a fresh twist to the Southeast Asian nation’s political drama last month after he declared that he had secured a “formidable” majority from federal lawmakers to form a new government.

The power struggle comes as the country, already grappling with an economy battered by the coronavirus, faces a renewed surge in infections.

Should Anwar succeed in securing the post, it would be the culmination of a 22-year long quest, during which he spent nearly 10 years in jail. It would also mean Malaysia would have its third prime minister this year.

But skepticism over Anwar’s claim remains as no major party has offered a clear declaration of support. One party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, has said some of its lawmakers supported Anwar.

“Should the meeting fail to translate into an actionable outcome, his credibility will be affected and this may push the opposition bloc to find another PM candidate,” said Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, senior associate at political consultancy Vriens & Partners.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah plays a largely ceremonial role but he can appoint a prime minister who in his view is likely to command a majority, so Anwar will need to convince him he has such backing.

The king could also dissolve parliament and trigger elections on the premier’s advice.

It was not clear if an outcome would be known on Tuesday.

Muhyiddin came to power in March after securing a majority with the support of opposition parties following the unexpected resignation of his predecessor Mahathir Mohamad. His opponents have accused him of grabbing power by shifting alliances instead of earning it at the ballot box. (Reporting by Joseph Sipalan Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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