KUALA LUMPUR,. Umno delegates have convened today to elect their divisional and supreme council leaders, with the focus on the contest for the post of party president.
Five candidates are standing for president, among them three heavyweights — Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the vice-president discharging the duties of the president; Gua Musang MP Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Rembau MP and former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
The two other contenders are Bandar Tun Razak Division member Mohamed Iqbal Maricair and Iskandar Puteri Division member Mohd Yusof Musa @ Jamaluddin.
The divisional meetings began at 9 am simultaneously at 191 divisions of the party in the country, and the main item on the agenda is the election of the divisional and supreme council leaders for the 2018-2021 term.
The Umno elections have been postponed since 2016 to enable the party to concentrate on the 14th general election which was held this year.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had stepped down as the party president following the defeat of the Barisan Nasional to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in the general election on May 9, leaving vice-president Ahmad Zahid to also discharge the duties of the president.
The contest for the post of deputy president is a straight fight between supreme council member and former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Umno Information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
The post of deputy president has been vacant since February 2016 when the then deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was suspended from the party and sacked four months later. Ahmad Zahid had been discharging the duties of the deputy president since.
Muhyiddin went on to help establish Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) helmed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and is now Home Affairs Minister in the PH government led by Dr Mahathir as the Prime Minister. (Bersatu is a partner in the PH coalition, along with PKR, DAP and Amanah.)
Today’s election for the three posts of Umno vice-president is a contest among seven candidates. They are Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob; Datuk Seri Mohamad Khaled Nordin; Sheikh Razali Sheikh Hamad; Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid; Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman; Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani and Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.
Vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein is not contesting in the party elections. Vice-president Ahmad Zahid is going for the presidency. The third post of vice-president has been vacant since Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal quit the party after he was suspended. He is now the Chief Minister of Sabah after the Parti Warisan Sabah he leads formed the government in the state following the general election this year.
A total of 106 candidates are contesting the 25 posts of Supreme Council member in the Umno elections.
The delegates at today’s meetings will also elect leaders at the divisional level.
The results of the elections for the central positions are expected to be available and announced at night by the Umno headquarters. The results of the elections for the divisional posts will be announced by the respective divisional permanent chairmen.
Several divisional leaders have been returned unopposed. One of them is former party president Najib who has been returned unopposed as the head of the Pekan Division.
Last Saturday, Umno completed its delegates meetings and elections for the three wings — Wanita, Youth and Puteri.