Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Anwar Ibrahim: Former Malaysian opposition leader released after years in prison

Anwar Ibrahim: Former Malaysian opposition leader released after years in prison

The 92-year-old former autocrat Mahathir had headed the now-ousted Barisan Nasional regime for 22 years until 2003 but came out of retirement to lead a disparate opposition to an unexpected election victory.

Mahathir is the leader of the ruling alliance and Anwar's PKR won the majority of parliamentary seats in the group.

That conviction is viewed by many in Malaysia as politically motivated, orchestrated by the previous government in a bid to decapitate Anwar's rising opposition movement.

Kuala Lumpur: Anwar Ibrahim, the twice-jailed former Malaysian opposition leader who is due to walk free on Wednesday after three years behind bars, says his country is on the verge of a new "golden era", adding, "I never lost hope" during his years in prison.

Officials in Anwar's political party said he was headed to an audience with Malaysia's king and was expected to address the public in the afternoon followed by a political rally in the evening.

Anwar is seeking a royal pardon on the grounds of "miscarriage of justice", which would reverse his conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics.

"You will have to give time to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and for the cabinet to be formed and the government to be working and running well".

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Mr Anwar, 70, is serving a second five-year jail term for sodomy.

He was found guilty of corruption in 1999 andgiven a five years jail, and the following year was also found guilty of sodomy.

In an ominous sign for the former prime minister, Najib and his wife Rosmah were slapped with a travel ban by Malaysia's Immigration Department on Saturday, which stopped the couple from leaving for Jakarta.

He was jailed again in 2015, under the reign of Najib Razak.

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, campaigned alongside Mahathir and was sworn in on Thursday as Malaysia's first deputy prime minister.

Until then, Anwar will first need to be elected into parliament.

On Friday, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had expressed his willingness to grant an immediate pardon to Anwar. There are no by-elections planned but it is thought Wan Azizah may step aside for Anwar.

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