In a minor Cabinet reshuffle today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi named his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as finance minister.
Abdullah, who was the finance minister, will take over Najib's defence ministry portfolio. He said he may step down sooner than 2010.
The swap was announced after today's Cabinet meeting.
Najib has also been made deputy chairman of Khazanah Nasional.
Today's announcement comes amid widespread speculation over a transition plan hammered out between the country's top two leaders for Najib to take over power in 2010.
Said Abdullah today:' "The transition is flexible. It is up to me. It will be no later than 2010 but it may be sooner."
Abdullah added that he would also offer himself as a candidate to be Umno president while Najib would stand as deputy president at this year's Umno elections.
Najib, who was also at the press conference, said: "I would like to thank the prime minister for his confidence.
"Giving me this post shows he is magnanimous, it shows his sincerity in picking me as his successor."
Sources said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is also expected to be named de facto law minister to replace Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who quit this week over the Internal Security Act (ISA) arrests of DAP leader Teresa Kok and two others.
the reb's comments: if all the talk about the submarine deal and najib is true, this means more opportunities for you know what. and the wife will be also very happy - more shopping in store? and we all know what will happen - the rakyat's money will disappear fast. and badawi as defence minister? is he going to call up the army to ensure he stays on?