Malaysia’s Mahathir ousted from party amid power struggle

Mahathir Mohamad, above, co-founded Bersatu with member Muhyiddin Yassin in 2016. (AP)
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Updated 29 May 2020

Malaysia’s Mahathir ousted from party amid power struggle

  • Bersatu party has been split into two camps
  • Mahathir Mohamad co-founded Bersatu with Muhyiddin Yassin in 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has been ousted from his ethnic Malay political party in the latest twist of a power struggle with his successor, but he has vowed to challenge the move.
The 94-year-old Mahathir, along with his son and three other senior members, were expelled from the Bersatu party on Thursday.
The party has been split into two camps since intense political wrangling led Mahathir to resign as prime minister in February and the king to appoint fellow party member Muhyiddin Yassin as his replacement despite Mahathir’s objections.
Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz Mahathir, has since challenged Muhyiddin as party president in a vote that’s been postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The unilateral action by Bersatu’s president to sack us without valid reason is due to his own fears in facing party elections as well as his unsafe position as the most unstable prime minister in the history of the country’s administration,” a joint statement by Mahathir and the four others said.
Mahathir co-founded Bersatu with Muhyiddin in 2016, and the party joined an alliance that won a stunning victory in 2018 polls, leading to the first change of government since independence.
The ruling alliance collapsed after Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out to work with the former government, which has been accused of massive corruption. Mahathir, a two-time prime minister, resigned in protest.
Mahathir has said he still has the majority support of lawmakers and has called for a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin. The vote has been delayed amid the pandemic but could be held at the next sitting of Parliament in July.
In their statement, Mahathir and the other expelled members said the move was illegal and they may take legal action to challenge their termination and ensure Bersatu isn’t used as a vehicle for those crazy for power.
Party letters sent to the five said their membership had ceased as they sat with the opposition bloc during a half-day Parliament sitting on May 18. But the letter was signed by a lower official who Mahathir’s group and others said had no power to remove them.
“All eyes are on Mahathir’s next move,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. “Muhyiddin would be gravely mistaken if he thinks this will slow down Mahathir’s relentless onslaught to not so much unseat him, but topple the present ruling coalition.”
Muhyiddin had earlier tried to reconcile with Mahathir, but failed.
The current government includes the party of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is on trial on charges related to a massive financial scandal.

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French militant gets 30 years for Syria crimes

Updated 29 min 31 sec ago

French militant gets 30 years for Syria crimes

  • Investigators believed Tyler Vilus was part of the ‘Al-MuHajjireen’ (the immigrants) brigade

PARIS: A French court on Friday handed a 30-year prison sentence to a militant for crimes committed in Syria between 2013-15 including overseeing the execution of two prisoners while a senior figure in the Daesh extremist group.
Tyler Vilus, 30, who was found guilty on all charges, was also accused of belonging to a terrorist group, heading a group of Daesh fighters and “aggravated murder.”
Public prosecutor Guillaume Michelin earlier asked the court for a life sentence, with no possibility of parole for 22 years.
Michelin said Vilus “hasn’t changed one bit” since his time with the Daesh.
“All the steps in the accused’s journey are interlocked with the construction of the caliphate,” said the prosecutor, referring to the Islamist-ruled area that Daesh had at the time carved out in Syria and Iraq.
“It is your responsibility to put a definite end to the bloodshed,” he told the court.
But the presiding judge said he wanted to give him “a glimmer of hope” so that he could “evolve,” even though he could have been sentenced to life on being convicted of all charges.
Investigators believed Vilus was part of the “Al-MuHajjireen” (the immigrants) brigade, a squad that tortured and carried out summary executions, which he had denied.
However, the court found that Vilus supervised the executions as a member of the religious police in the north-eastern Syrian town Ash Shaddadi, close to the Iraqi border.
In a 2015 video published by the Daesh’s media department, a man alleged to be Vilus is two meters away as two kneeling and blindfolded prisoners — one belonging to the Free Syrian Army rebel fighters and the other a member of Bashar Assad’s army — are executed with a bullet to the head.
His arrest and trial were seen as a major coup for the French security services, as Vilus is believed to have known many French militants in Syria.
Vilus had admitted to being in contact with the man French secret services believe is the mastermind of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.