He made a last-ditch attempt to cling to power Friday by urging opposition MPs to support him in exchange for institutional reforms -- but his offer was rejected.

Minister Mohamad Redzuan Yusof told AFP that Muhyiddin had informed lawmakers from his party during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur Sunday that he would tender his resignation.

"He will hold a final cabinet meeting on Monday, then he will head to the palace to submit his resignation letter," said the minister in the prime minister's department.

"We did try to convince him to stay on, but he said: 'We do not have the number of MPs.'"

Muhyiddin told the meeting it would be up to the king -- who has publicly criticised his government -- to accept his resignation or not, the minister added.

There has been speculation that, should he step down, a new government will be formed without elections due to concerns that polls could worsen the virus outbreak.

But, with no clear successor as prime minister, there are likely to be days of political horse-trading ahead as MPs seek to form a workable coalition.

It will ultimately be up to the constitutional monarch to appoint a leader whom he believes commands parliamentary support.

Muhyiddin came to power in March last year without an election at the head of a scandal-plagued coalition following the collapse of a two-year-old, reformist government led by Mahathir Mohamad.

But his government was beset by turmoil from day one -- it had weak parliamentary support, its legitimacy was constantly questioned, and he faced a serious challenge from opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim.

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