Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 09:48 UK

Malaysia PM faces confidence vote

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi (file image)
The prime minister is facing mounting calls for his resignation

A small party in Malaysia's ruling coalition has called for a motion of no confidence against the prime minister.

In a statement, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) said it had lost faith in the leadership of Abdullah Badawi.

It is one of the smaller parties in the 14-strong coalition, but the move could gather momentum if other parties join the revolt.

The move comes as a fresh blow to Mr Abdullah, who is already under mounting pressure to resign.

People are angry about sharp fuel price rises, while the ruling coalition is still reeling from heavy losses in March's general election.

The coalition lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time since independence in 1957.

Oil revenues

SAPP, from Malaysian Borneo, has two seats in parliament.

Its leaders accused the government of ignoring the region's needs, and said the no-confidence motion would be put to parliament on Monday.

"People have lost confidence in the present leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi," SAPP's Vice-President Chua Soon Bui said in a statement.

The move would be unprecedented in Malaysia, reports the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head, but it is not clear whether it could gain sufficient support to overthrow the government.

The opposition holds 82 seats in parliament and needs another 30 lawmakers to win a simple majority in the 222-seat chamber.

Around a third of the ruling coalition's lawmakers are from Borneo, where there is long-standing resentment over the small share they get of their region's oil revenues.

De facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is convinced he will have enough support to overthrow the government before the end of the year.

Even if he does not, Mr Abdullah may still be forced to step down sooner than he plans by his own party, our correspondent adds.

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