The decision was reached after the Wanita Umno executive council held a six-hour meeting yesterday.
Rafidah, had on Aug 4, revealed the transition plan saying that she will stand for election this year and step down and hand over her post to Shahrizat in mid-2009.
She also asked members to support her decision not to have any contest for the top two posts. Sharizat accepted Rafidah's decision.
But on Sunday Shahrizat had said in a press statement that she wanted the leadership transition plan between her and Rafidah to be brought forward to March in line with the transition of power between Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. In other words, she’d like Rafidah to step down earlier than planned.
Many members had asked her to declare her stand on the transition plan she said. She has received 73 nominations for the post of Wanita Umno chief, making her eligible to contest for the movement’s top slot. The number of nominations she has picked is also an indication that Wanita members wanted her to lead.
At the press conference after the meeting, Shahrizat explained that as a lawyer she was just putting down her thoughts into words and taking into consideration the views of the grassroots.
Here's Malaysiakini's report
Shahrizat will not challenge Rafidah
Nov 10, 08 8:11pm
Wanita Umno deputy leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will not challenge incumbent Rafidah Aziz in the party polls next March to allow the latter to retain the post without a fight.
And as planned, Rafidah will hand over power to Shahrizat in June, thus enabling the younger woman to act as the acting head of the movement.
These were the decisions made by the members of the Wanita Umno executive council in a six-hour meeting held today.
Their decisions were unanimous, although executive council member Kamilia Ibrahim - who has secured enough nominations to contest the post held by Shahrizat now - did not attend today's meeting.
It is still uncertain how Kamilia can throw the spanner in the decisions reached by the women's wing today.
As it stands, Shahrizat has enough nominations to stand in the election for the top post but she has decided to bide her time and wait for the June handover by Rafidah.
"I will take the initiative to negotiate with Kamilia together with Rafidah. I believe a wise decision can be reached," she told reporters.
To ensure solidarity
Rafidah also told reporters that she had the backing of the executive council to pursue with her transition plan.
"We had an in-depth discussion on the nominations. The executive council have agreed with the transition plan which was decided earlier and it will take place in June 2009."
Shahrizat who was present at the press conference, said she accepted the executive council's decision.
"I still respect the transition plan announced by Rafidah in August and today when we met, I personally asked her: Do you agree that about the transition plan, we open it for discussion?
"They have asked for it for the sake of Wanita Umno solidarity and to strengthen it; so we are maintaining the status quo until June," she said.
"I listen to the grassroots, I thanked them. I listen to what the executive council wants but most of all, I believe in the Rafidah's leadership.
"So, I say okay. This is for the good of the nation, for the party. Then I accept it," she said.
The dark horse Kamilia
The consensus reached by the executive council today was indeed a surprise as it was reported only yesterday that Shahrizat was going to ask Rafidah to bring forward her transition plan, preferably to March to coincide with the party polls.
Shahrizat's position is quite shaky with the present set up as she could face a tough battle - and lose - to Kamilia, leaving her with nothing.
If that happens, Rafidah would then be forced to hand over the leadership as planned to her deputy in June.
Many Wanita members also feel that the June transition plan would put a lot of pressure on the incoming chief - be it Shahrizat or Kamilia - as that person would have to prepare for the next general election on her own, without the aide of a deputy.