Malaysia leader agrees on power handover

Malaysia’s leader announced Friday he has struck a deal on when to hand power to his deputy, as pressure for him to resign intensified from public anger over rising fuel prices.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi refused to reveal exactly when he will let his deputy, Najib Razak, succeed him, though he has repeatedly insisted he would remain in office beyond the end of 2008.

“Najib and I have decided on the right time for me to hand over the premiership to him,” the national news agency Bernama quoted Abdullah as saying in a speech to government supporters in eastern Malaysia. An aide confirmed the report.

Abdullah has suffered further public criticism after raising retail gasoline prices by 41 percent last week. More than 1,000 people marched in Malaysia’s main city Friday in the biggest protest so far against the price hike, calling for Abdullah to step down.

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