Votes for three vice-president posts being recounted
Malaysia's Islamic party today retained Mr Mohamad Sabu as deputy president in internal elections marked by open tensions between its ulama (clerics) faction and the liberal-leaning group that wants to work closer with the opposition pact led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Mr Mohamad belongs to the faction dubbed as the "Anwarinas" by the local media.
He warded off a challenge by cleric Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, the Deputy Menteri Besar of Kelantan. Mr Mohamad won 588 votes against the 490 won by his challenger - a narrow 98-vote majority.
The results were announced by a party official at the party's annual congress, which ends on Sunday.
The president of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), senior cleric Abdul Hadi Awang, retained his post unchallenged in the elections, which are held every two years.
The votes for the three vice-president posts were being recounted. Results are expected to be out on Sunday.
There is a five-way contest for the three vice-president posts. The incumbent VPs are all from the pro-Anwar faction - Datuk Husam Musa, Mr Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Mahfuz Omar.
The challengers are two senior PAS clerics - information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, and head of education bureau Abu Bakar Chik.
Mr Tuan Ibrahim is widely expected to easily win one of the three VP posts, while Mr Abu Bakar is expected to lose.
This would leave the three incumbents to fight for the remaining two VP slots.
There is also a battle for the 18 central working committee, involving 61 candidates, which are again expected to be split between the ulama and the Anwarinas.
In the ongoing PAS congress, members of its Youth, Women and Ulama wings have shown that the Islamic party wants the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact to give more attention to the conservative views espoused by its clerics.
Members have also expressed their desire to see PAS to play a more prominent role in the three-party opposition pact.