Malaysian opposition leader is freed and pardoned

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim freed from jail
Malaysia's Reformist Icon Anwar Ibrahim Freed From Prison After Receiving Royal Pardon
Author

17 Мая, 2018

Today's release ends Anwar Ibrahim's second lengthy spell in jail for his political views.

Anwar Ibrahim (C), former Malaysian deputy prime minister who was jailed for a sodomy verdict, waves as he walks out of a habitation center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 16, 2018.

He is prime minister-in-waiting but unlikely to take over quickly from Mr Mahathir.

On Wednesday, Anwar called his release a victory for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom.

The convoy, which picked up vehicles as it sped through the city, carried the 70-year-old Anwar to the king's palace, where he shared a warm handshake with new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad - his former nemesis and current ally - before having an audience with the monarch.

Anwar was kicked out as Mahathir's deputy prime minister on September 2, 1998, amid reports he was under police investigation.

But the relationship between the two politicians hasn't always been so friendly, as Mr Mahathir got Mr Anwar sacked and arrested 20 years ago with the same accusations of sodomy that put him in jail in 2015.

Since Razak was unseated, the 1MDB investigation has gathered pace, with both the former prime minister and his wife barred from leaving the country.

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But prospects that Anwar will immediately take over as the country's prime minister appeared bleak on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad issued a statement saying he intends to remain the nation's leader for "one or two years".

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had offered the prime minister post to Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail but she refused the offer, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim revealed.

"Freeing Anwar was a long time coming, and, while people in Malaysia and around the world are delighted, no one should forget the injustice he faced serving a long sentence for a crime that should never have been considered a crime", he said.

However, she's demonstrated she has a great deal of public support so another legislator might have to step down to allow Anwar to run, she added.

With success came new allegations, and Anwar was once again jailed on new sodomy charges in 2015.

His freedom is expected to ease fears of a growing rift within the newly formed coalition government, after differences erupted between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role in the party.

Mr Mahathir, during a prior stint as premier from 1981 to 2003, fired Mr Anwar as his deputy in 1998 over a dispute on how best to respond to the Asian financial crisis.

Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with a logo of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tensions between them. Mahathir on Saturday named the finance, home affairs and defence ministers, who are leaders in his four-party alliance. "I expect him to play the same role as the leaders of the other three parties".

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