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 Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks during the Wacana 3.0 dialogue programme at Putra World Trade Centre. - NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks during the Wacana 3.0 dialogue programme at Putra World Trade Centre. - NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA

KUALA LUMPUR: Following immense pressure to relinquish the Umno presidency, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi tonight announced his decision to hand over the duties of the president to his deputy.

“Based on the problems currently faced by the party, I have decided to entrust the deputy president (Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan) with the task of carrying out the duties of the president,” he said in a statement.

“I am aware of the concerns felt by some Umno leaders, who are worried that they would face pressure, investigations and accusations which I have faced,” said Zahid, who has been hit with a slew of graft charges.

“For the sake of Umno’s solidarity and in the interest of its leadership at all levels, especially members of parliament, state assemblymen and its divisions, measures to rectify the situation have to be taken immediately,” he said.

Zahid expressed hope that all polemics about the party leadership will be put to rest, adding that he wants the leadership at grassroots level to now focus on strengthening the party.

He called for an end to any further defections by Umno MPs and assemblymen.

Meanwhile, at a dialogue session with Umno members at Menara Dato Onn, Zahid said Umno had filed a lawsuit against its elected representatives who had jumped ship.

These elected representatives, he said, had won their seats under Umno and the Barisan Nasional banner, and not on their own accord.

“They won thanks to the hard work of Umno members and the party machinery. They should be grateful for their victory instead of jumping ship for the sake of their own interests,” he said.

Umno, he said, filed a writ of summons on Dec 14 to demand compensation from the MPs, and would be claiming for a large sum from them.

He said Umno’s legal suit would not only be limited to the Election Offences Act 1954, and that it would exhaust all possible means to claim the money.

"What they owe to Umno and its machinery must be repaid," he said.

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