SOURCE : MALAYSIAKINI
Mahathir said he could no longer subscribe to Abdullah's political stewardship in both Umno and the government due to the latter's incompetency.
He added that Umno was no longer the same party when it was formed on May 11, 62 years ago.
"Then Umno fought for the Malay interests, rights and privileges.
"But now it has become a party merely to support Abdullah's fragile leadership, serve his, his family's and his cronies' interests.
"Due to this, I'm relinquishing my Umno life membership," he said, adding that he would write a letter immediately to the party secretary-general to that effect.
When asked whether his shocking departure from the party would put pressure on premier to quit, he said he was not sure about it because "this man (Abdullah) seems could not understand anything."
On whether his resignation would trigger a resignation spree among Umno leaders and members, Mahathir said they would do so if they loved the party.
"They must have the courage to do it," he said. "If they love Umno and want Umno to survive, then they have to resign as a show of no confidence on Abdullah's leadership.
"However, if they love Abdullah more than the party then they would not quit," he said.
'We don't want you anymore'
Earlier, speaking at the packed hotel ballroom, Mahathir called on party leaders and members from all levels to quit the party to force Abdullah to step down to send an unambiguous message to the prime minister that "we don't want you anymore".
"We cannot afford to wait until the party polls because no division would dare to nominate another person, other than Abdullah for the top post.
"So the best way is to force him (Abdullah) to leave by us quitting first," he said.
However, Mahathir's quit decision came only after his speech when he was challenged by a member of the crowd to lead the way in quitting the party.
Without missing a beat, Mahathir responded that he would do so.
"I declare today I'm quitting Umno because I could not stand with Abdullah's leadership any longer," he told the shocked crowd during the question-and-answer session.
When pressed by others from floor on whether he was serious about the matter, he stressed that he was a man of principle and would not back out from his decision.
"I will keep my word to quit party until Abdullah steps down," he added.
Even though opposition parties PKR and PAS would welcome estranged Umno members, he said it would defeat the purpose if members quit only to join them.
"Our objective to quit is to force Abdullah to step down.
"Once he has quit his positions, then we all shall return to revitalise the party," he told a cheering crowd.