Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad , the world’s oldest prime minister, on Tuesday promised to hand over power to his anointed successor, Anwar Ibrahim, in spite of new sexual assault allegations against the latter. Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive,” Mahathir said. “As far I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him. If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise … irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise,” he said. Asked if a handover could come in December 2020, Mahathir said: “We’ll look at that when the time comes.” The turbulent relationship between the two men – allies turned fierce rivals who later reunited last May to unseat the administration of Najib Razak, whose Barisan Nasional coalition ruled uninterrupted for six decades – has shaped politics in Malaysia for decades. Mahathir was unexpectedly elected last year as the head of a coalition government whose largest party is led by Anwar , 72, who has been jailed twice on separate counts of sodomy and for corruption – charges he says were political. Mahathir and Anwar: a Malaysian succession timeline Last week, Anwar denied fresh allegations by a former aide that he had tried to force him to have sex – describing the accusations as “politics at its worst”. It is Mahathir’s second stint as Malaysia’s premier, a post he previously held for 22 years from 1981 to 2003. Anwar was his deputy from 1993 to 1998, when the two fell out. Anwar was jailed the following year. Although Mahathir promised to hand over to Anwar during the May 2018 general election campaign, doubts grew over his intentions when he later said he needed more time to steer the heavily-indebted country out of its troubles first. Firing back responses to questions from a sofa in his palatial office at Putrajaya on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir said he did not feel tired despite his age because he was satisfied by his work. “I try to do some minor exercise, but mainly I keep my weight stable,” he said. “I’ve been 62 kilos for the past 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t change. I don’t eat very much, and I don’t [overeat] … when food tastes nice.” As well as planning to be the first leader in the world to host the Apec summit twice, Mahathir has been pushing to cement his legacy as a leader in the Muslim world. We hope that they will be able to explain and accept the fact that there has been genocide carried out. Mahathir Mohamad, on Myanmar’s Rohingya issue A summit in Kuala Lumpur next week would bring leaders from Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and other Muslim countries, officials said. Mahathir said the meeting would look into situations where Muslims were being oppressed. That would include allegations of rights abuses against Uygur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, Mahathir said, while adding prospects for action by the Muslim world were limited. Malaysian minister under fire for calling Uygur camp a ‘training institution’ on China visit “Taking a stand is one thing, doing something that can improve this situation is another thing. You take a stand which may well result in more pressures being applied and it is not going to do us any good,” he said. “The Muslim world cannot challenge anybody. We are very weak. Anybody can manipulate us, they can even make us fight each other. That’s how we are.” Mahathir has in the past said that China was too powerful to challenge over the accusations in Xinjiang , which Beijing denies. He has not spared fellow Southeast Asian nation Myanmar from criticism over treatment of Rohingya Muslims after more than 700,000 were driven into Bangladesh by a military crackdown in 2017. With Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi set to defend Myanmar against accusations at the World Court in The Hague this week, Mahathir said he hoped that abuses would be recognised and accepted. “We hope that they will be able to explain and accept the fact that there has been genocide carried out,” he said. “We hope that they will respond in one way or another to international opinion.” Meanwhile, Mahathir is hopeful of soon reaching an out-of-court settlement with Goldman Sachs over the 1MDB corruption scandal that sent Malaysia’s debt soaring, but that the compensation of “one point something billion” dollars offered by the bank was too small. Malaysia has charged Goldman and 17 current and former directors of its units for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales totalling US$6.5 billion that the US bank helped raise for sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd ( 1MDB ). Mahathir said they have demanded US$7.5 billion from Goldman and negotiations were ongoing. At the moment their offer is too small … but we think we can reach some agreement at a later stage. Mahathir Mohamad on the Goldman negotiations “We would like to avoid having to go to the courts, but if they come up with a reasonable sum I think we will agree,” he said on Tuesday. “But at the moment their offer is too small. We’re continuing to talk with them to explain why they should pay what we demand,” he said. “Of course it’s not the full amount … but we think that we can reach some agreement at a later stage.” Mahathir says Malaysia rejected US$2 billion 1MDB offer from Goldman A spokesman for Goldman declined to comment. Mahathir said he hoped an agreement with Goldman would be reached “soon”. “Yes, I want to achieve a settlement. We are progressing. If we fail then we’ll go to the courts,” he said. “We cannot pre-empt by going to the courts.” Mahathir said Malaysia would not agree to a settlement with fugitive financier Jho Low , accused of playing a central role in the scam. The billionaire has consistently denied wrongdoing and has said he does not expect a fair trial in Malaysia as long as Mahathir is in power. “We think he is very guilty. We have proof of that,” Mahathir said of Low. “We want to settle it according to the law. The US Justice Department said last month it struck a deal to recover US$1 billion in funds allegedly looted from 1MDB from Low.