Najib is expected to run for president, and if he wins, would become the nation’s sixth prime minister.
By tradition, the Umno president and deputy president become the prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively.
Datuk Abdullah, however, told reporters that he would "stay on as Prime Minister" till March. And according to rocky, he will go on a two-month leave before handing over the premiership to Najib.
Malaysiakini has the story:
PM not contesting, to quit in March
Malaysiakini Team Oct 8, 08 4:39pm
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided not to defend his Umno president's post and will quit in March next year when the ruling party meets for its annual general assembly.
The embattled premier announced this today to a packed press conference after chairing a 90-minute BN special supreme council meeting.
He added that his decision not to contest in the Umno polls was not to create a rift in the party.
"I am announcing I will not seek the presidency of Umno in the upcoming elections. I do not want a divided party and governing coalition, but one that is united and harmonious," Abdullah, 68, told a packed press conference, referring to the party's internal leadership vote in March.
Under the power transition plan agreed between Abdullah and his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak, 55, the deputy premier will take over as soon as Abdullah steps down.
"At some point I will have to hand over to my successor," he added.
He said that he hoped the person who will take over from him would be Najib.
"I hope it is Najib. Why do I say hope? Najib has to stand for Umno elections first. Once he wins the elections and becomes party president then we will discuss it (the transition)," he said.
"It is not the time for us to indulge in infighting or engage in narrow politics, it is now time for us to strengthen our unity and cooperate among ourselves and place the interests of the country above all."
Abdullah also said that he would want to implement his promises in reforming the judiciary and to give more bite to the Anti-Corruption Agency to fight graft before he leaves.
He added that Najib had agreed to back these initiatives.Cleaning up the judiciary, police force.
In pursuing these reforms, he said that he will be tabling two key bills in the Parliament before the end of his term - the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
The outgoing premier also vowed to push through the controversial Special Complaints Commission, which has been stalled in Parliament.
Abdullah had spoken much about these reforms in the past but to date no concrete action has been taken to get them moving.
"These initiatives are important because they are necessary to move our country forward. These initiatives are needed to regain our country's competitiveness. They are necessary to enable our nation and our society to face the challenges that the world has in store for us."
Earlier a component party leader told Malaysiakini that after Abdullah's announcement,the BN leaders took turns to thank him for his leadership over the past five years.
While Abdullah was briefing BN leaders on the power transfer plan at the meeting, scores of his supporters had gathered outside the PWTC building to urge him to stay on.
Armed with banners, the supporters called on the embattled premier to continue until 2010 amid the now confirmed speculation that he might be forced to step down earlier. - Malaysiakini .