Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has appointed himself to replace Anwar Ibrahim as finance minister, but it is widely expected this could be just a temporary move. 'The foreign press always says that I don't understand finance at all. But I'll try,' said Dr Mahathir, announcing his decision early yesterday. Mr Anwar, who was also sacked as deputy prime minister on Wednesday, said: 'I wish him all the best. There is a lot of work to do.' Dr Mahathir, 73, admits taking over the finance ministry during an economic crisis will be a heavy burden. In addition to being prime minister, he is also home affairs minister and will now also take over Mr Anwar's responsibilities as deputy prime minister. 'Well, it is hard work,' Dr Mahathir said. Political and financial analysts expect Dr Mahathir to only remain finance minister for an interim period before naming a successor, probably after next month's budget. University of Malaya political science professor Chandra Muzaffar said: 'We expect he will appoint a new finance minister, but not yet. He will first want to consolidate his position.' Businessman Daim Zainuddin, one of the prime minister's closest allies, is seen as the most obvious candidate. During the 1984 recession he was appointed finance minister and has recently been called back into the Cabinet. As special functions minister since July, Mr Daim has worked closely with Dr Mahathir in plotting the country's radical economic approach, including slashing back interest rates to stimulate spending. These policies clashed with Mr Anwar's and contributed to his downfall. 'Daim couldn't take the position now, or else it could look like he's staged it all,' said one research head. Analysts said Mr Daim would also need time to distance himself from his business concerns to avoid accusations of conflict of interest. These interests range from roads and infrastructure to property and banking, though many are secret. If Mr Daim is not appointed, Rafidah Aziz, the country's fast-talking trade and industry minister, is another possible candidate.