KUALA LUMPUR — Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants his latest successor and erstwhile protege, Najib Razak, removed from office through public demonstrations after U.S. prosecutors filed lawsuits to recover assets allegedly bought with money from a state fund.
“I think we should have a peaceful rally to demand for the removal of the prime minister,” Mahathir told reporters on Thursday.
The department of justice in the U.S. filed a civil lawsuit with a district court in California on Wednesday to freeze assets in the U.S. The authorities there believe these have been bought with over $3 billion embezzled from 1MDB by senior officials. Prosecutors are seeking to recover over $1 billion in assets, which include high-end properties, paintings, and aircraft.
Joining hands with the Malaysian opposition, Mahathir collected over a million signatures some months ago demanding Najib’s resignation. The petition is intended for presentation to Sultan Abdul Halim, Malaysia’s reigning king, but Mahathir said attempts to secure an audience with the palace have so far been unsuccessful.
Mahathir participated in anti-Najib demonstrations last August when tens of thousands marched through Kuala Lumpur. The incumbent prime minister nevertheless retains strong support in the cabinet and ruling party.
Malaysian authorities said official investigations into 1MDB found “no crime was committed”, according to a statement on Thursday issued by the prime minister’s office.