Zahid to address Umno at a briefing today

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Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to address the concerns of roiled party members at a briefing today, especially the jailing of Najib Abdul Razak, according to a party insider.

The leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there is no plan to use the event to put pressure on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to step down, as many had speculated.

However, he does not discount the possibility that hardcore supporters of former Umno president Najib might try to use the gathering at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur to pit the blame on Ismail Sabri over the jailing of the former prime minister.

“It is not the agenda of the briefing (to pressure Ismail Sabri to step down). The president (Zahid) is fair.

“The gathering is more to address the (unsettling) situation because the Umno base is very restless and (this) needs to be addressed,” said the source.

The leader spoke to Malaysiakini to set the record straight following contradictory claims that Ismail Sabri had been given an ultimatum by the party’s political bureau to dissolve Parliament or face expulsion from Umno.

He said no such ultimatum or threat was made against the prime minister.

However, the source, who is privy to top-level party discussions, admitted there were such talks among a certain section of Umno members and leaders who are pro-Najib looking for Ismail Sabri’s head to roll for not lifting a finger to prevent the Pekan MP from going to jail.

“There were indeed some groups (in Umno) who were really emotional and they discussed this.

“But it’s not in the biropol (political bureau) meeting. It’s the side conversations that are a bit extreme.”

Today’s briefing session is expected to be chiefly about Najib, the insider said.

He claimed certain party leaders tried to instigate others in Umno to blame Ismail Sabri over what happened to Najib.

It is possible that pro-Najib groups will try to use the event as a platform to raise the temperature on the matter, added the source.

However, the insider does not expect the situation to be too hot to handle, saying Ismail Sabri also has his supporters and many are “beginning to calm down and be more circumspect”.

Najib was sent to prison on Tuesday after the Federal Court dismissed his final appeal against seven criminal convictions and a 12-year jail sentence in the SRC International case.

A day later, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan in a tweet announced that Umno would hold a special briefing session which would touch on “current affairs”. – Malaysiakini