Umno Youth chief plays down talk of rift between Zahid, Ismail Sabri as wing concludes congress

(MMO) – Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki told the wing’s congress today that the party is not affected by rumours of a rift between president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Asyraf dismissed the speculation that Ismail Sabri is against the idea of calling for an early national election as baseless. He claimed both leaders felt a national poll should be held, but suggested they disagree about the timing.

“I received so many posters, all these infographics. As if at this AGM, there is a movement behind the prime minister and another behind the party president,” he said during the winding up of the wing’s debates.

“What is this? We are facing a general election. Everyone agrees, everyone supports it. Just a matter of time. We just disagree about the timing,” the Umno Youth leader added.

Zahid is set to use the 2021 annual general assembly to pressure Ismail Sabri to dissolve Parliament to pave the way for the 15th national polls, which he is said to be keen to hold this year, ostensibly with the hope that a strong Umno-led government could influence the outcome of their corruption trials.

But there are talks that the prime minister would try to buy time to delay calling for a general election until after Umno holds its internal polls, which must be held in the third quarter this year.

Ismail is currently one of the party’s three vice-presidents. Some pundits had opined that Ismail could vie for the presidency if he succeeds in holding off the pressure to call to dissolve Parliament, although there appears to be little indication to date that it would happen.

Umno is riding high on confidence after securing a back-to-back thumping victory at the Melaka and Johor state elections, which has fuelled calls for Ismail to call for a national poll soon.

The main congress, to start tomorrow and conclude on Saturday, will likely make the general election its top agenda.

Zahid had told reporters that the demand for a new “public mandate” was clearly outlined in the opening speeches by all heads of all three party wings, which Umno’s supreme council will deliberate tonight.