Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi said any clarification on the party’s position on Perikatan Nasional's prime ministerial candidate in the 15th general election should come directly from Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Puad (above) said this after the clarification yesterday by BN secretary-general Annuar Musa that his comment on Umno and PAS supporting Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime ministerial candidate in the next polls was only about the present, and that the future was still not clear.
"The fundamental issue of Umno's role in PN and the possibility of its registration must come from the Umno president's own mouth.
"Not from the BN or Umno secretary-general. PAS leaders should also respect the spirit of Muafakat Nasional," Puad said in reference to the Umno-PAS alliance.
On July 2, Annuar was quoted by Berita Harian as saying that Umno and PAS have agreed in principle to support Muhyiddin as the prime ministerial candidate in the 15th general election, sparking protests from a number of senior Umno leaders.
Subsequently, Zahid (above) in a statement urged his party not to be engaged in the debate about PN's prime ministerial candidate and instead focus on serving the people.
However, he did not clarify Umno's position on the matter.
'Muafakat Nasional is the priority'
Puad noted that the endorsement for Muhyiddin to be the prime minister after the next polls had come from "a certain individual" and not from the Umno president.
"The fact is that Umno already has a consensus and it's been consistent - Muafakat Nasional is the priority.
"It is different from the statement by certain individuals about the prime ministerial candidate. That is not what Umno agreed to before," Puad told Malaysiakini.
He said the endorsement had even prompted concerns by Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
"So, when the Umno president makes an official statement, it should not be turned into a polemic, as it is to help calm the situation.
"As we know, the earlier statement (by Annuar on the PM post) was not endorsed by the Umno president, that it is not the priority nor was it agreed upon within Umno," Puad added.
Meanwhile, Umno Veterans' Club secretary-general Mustapha Yaakub (above) asked Umno members to give the issue a rest.
"We respect the president's request that we have a ceasefire on the prime ministerial candidate issue. There is no need to discuss it.
"Everyone should abide by it and stop making speculations, suggestions or the likes," he told Malaysiakini.
The Harapan government collapsed in late February, after Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out to form a new coalition with PKR defectors BN, PAS, GPS, PBS and STAR.
Muhyiddin was subsequently sworn in as the new prime minister.
He had been working to formalise PN so that its component parties would be able to contest under a common platform in the next general election.
However, some leaders within Umno believe that the Umno-PAS alliance is strong enough to win in the next polls, without having to make concessions to Bersatu.
All three parties rely on a Malay voter base and have extensive overlapping claims over the electoral constituencies that they want to contest in.