Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Mediator to try to placate former Malaysian leader

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has agreed to meet a mediator to resolve differences with the government that have soured the country's political climate and raised fears of instability, a minister said yesterday.

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin told the national news agency Bernama that he sug-gested the name of a mediator to Mahathir on Friday night, and he agreed.

He did not say when the meeting will take place. Mahathir is expected to leave for Turkey and Greece on vacation soon.

Zainuddin did not name the mediator but said he is someone respected by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has come under stinging personal attacks by Mahathir in recent months. The mediator is well liked by Mahathir also, Zainuddin said.

Zainuddin said he told Mahathir -- a highly respected statesman decorated with the country's highest civilian title -- that it was vital for the mediator to meet him first before setting up a meeting with Abdullah.

"I told Dr Mahathir it is difficult for Abdullah to meet him privately because Tun has shown his unhappiness with the prime minister," he said, using Mahathir's honorific title Tun. "Dr Mahathir agreed to accept the mediator whose name I mentioned as the person who is loved by Tun."

Mahathir, who retired in October 2003 after 22 years in office as Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, has thrown Malaysian politics into turmoil with his attacks on Abdullah, his hand-picked successor.

Mahathir has accused Abdullah of mismanaging the country's economy and national affairs. Among Mahathir's complaints are that Abdullah has scrapped many projects that he started.

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