Malaysia’s king has agreed to pardon jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (pictured), newly installed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday.
The process of obtaining the royal pardon will start shortly and Anwar will be released as soon as he is pardoned, Mahathir said.
The royal pardon would allow Anwar to participate in politics again. Mahathir may make him the deputy prime minister, a post Anwar had enjoyed in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition once led by Mahathir until he was sacked in 1998 over a feud and later jailed for sodomy and abuse of power.
Mahathir is expected to fill 10 cabinet positions on Saturday.
Ahead of the May 9 general elections, Mahathir formed Pakatan Harapan coalition by uniting parties opposed to the corrupt rule of BN led by his predecessor Najib Razak. BN had led Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957. Mahathir finally ended its long innings by leading Pakatan Harapan to victory in Wednesday’s general elections.
Anwar, who led People’s Justice Party, is one of Malaysia’s most charismatic politicians but his ties with Mahathir had several twists and turns. In the end, both reconciled and Mahathir joined hands with him to remove Najib from power.
Najib was linked to a money scandal at Malaysia’s state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The scandal began to unfold in 2015 when reports
said some $700 million from 1MDB was transferred into Najib’s personal bank accounts. He has denied any wrongdoing. The 1MDB expose was a key factor
that led to his defeat in Wednesday’s elections.