Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim freed from jail after Mahathir election win

17 May, 2018, 00:40 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • Mahathir Mohamad insisted that he respected the right to freedom of speech but the move is likely to alarm liberals

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia-Malaysian pro-democracy leader Anwar Ibrahim was formally pardoned and released Wednesday after serving three years in detention on what he says was a trumped-up sodomy conviction, freeing him up to succeed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad after his stunning election win last week.

The firebrand politician was convicted of sodomy a second time in 2015, this time as his opposition alliance was making gains on the long-ruling coalition.

Yet rather than give up, Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending the two-decade feud with Mahathir - a gamble that paid off when the alliance won the May 9 polls and ended the National Front's 60-year grip on power.

Mr Anwar waved to reporters as he was whisked from a hospital on Wednesday where he was recovering from a shoulder surgery.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said earlier that Anwar is scheduled to hold a press conference at his home in Segambut at around 4pm. The pardon now paves the way for him one day becoming prime minister.

The coalition has promised that the newly elected prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar's mentor-turned-rival-turned-ally, will hand over power to his one-time protégé within two years.

What Happened: Police officers entered former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's house on May 16, Reuters reported.

"When you are incarcerated you realize what is the meaning and significance of freedom", Anwar said.

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"I will play a role in the background even when I step down", he said.

The field was muddy and soggy from the heavy afternoon downpour, but that did not deter a large crowd of Malaysians from gathering in Padang Timur to catch a glimpse of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. "I must thank the people of Malaysia", said Anwar.

Anwar and his supporters have long denied the sodomy allegations, saying they were concocted to destroy his political career.

Anwar was supposed to speak to the press outside the centre upon his release, but the sheer hubbub from supporters and media seems to have delayed this.

Mr Anwar said he had forgiven Mr Mahathir and stressed he would give full support to the new government, though not immediately be part of it.

"I think Tun Dr Mahathir will certainly welcome that sort of decision, because I told him, I will be kept informed, I will of course be interested to know what is happening, but I don't need to serve the cabinet for now", he said.

He said it was Mahathir's prerogative to form the cabinet, but noted he had given assurances that he will consult party leaders.

Unity between Anwar, 70, and Mahathir is key to the government executing quickly on campaign promises to scrap an unpopular goods and services tax, review big-ticket infrastructure projects and cut spending.

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