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The Malaysian Prime Minister says the leader of the imprisoned opposition has been pardoned



KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia's new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, said on Friday that the country's king had agreed to pardon detained opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and possibly pave the way for one of the key promises of Mahathir's campaign this year

The announcement is the last turn in a poll that has turned Malaysian politics on its head. Mr. Mahathir, who also served as Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003, led a coalition of opposition parties to defeat Prime Minister Najib Razak, his former protégé, who was heavily indicted for corruption.

The victory of the opposition ended in the seizure of power for Mahathir's former party, the United Mala National Organization, which in 1

957 dated to the country's independence from Britain.

Mr. Anwar was charged with corruption and sodomy in 1999 and sentenced to prison, in a case that was both politically motivated and on the orders of Mr. Mahathir.

Mr. Mahathir and Mr. Anwar are now on The same page is again a measure of the urgency of the opposition to expel Mr. Najib. And more: Mr. Mahathir has said he is ready to step aside and clear the way for Mr. Anwar to become prime minister.

"Many of them suffered during his time as Prime Minister," Ibrahim Suffian, executive director of The Merdeka Center, an independent polling group, said about Mr. Mahathir's new allies. But he added, "In recent years, they have discovered that Mahathir was a solid politician with a keen sense of skill to win, they could not come here without Mahathir, and they will not leave him. "

Mr. Anwar is now serving a second prison term, which ends nominally in June.

The King stated, "He is ready to pardon Datuk Seri Anwar immediately, so we will go through the right process of pardon," Mahathir said Friday

While Mr. Mahathir was speaking, Mr. Anwar's wife was Wan Aziza Wan Ismail, the next Deputy Prime Minister.

Mr. Mahathir gave no indication of when an apology from Mr. Anwar could occur, but said that once he was free, he would be able to return to political life.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2013. He was an ally, then an enemy, and is now once again an ally of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Credit Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters

"It will be a full pardon, which of course means that he should not do it only to be pardoned, he should be released immediately if he is pardoned," said Mr. Mahathir. "After that, he will be free to fully participate in politics."

Mr. Mahathir also said his new government intended to investigate allegations of electoral fraud.

"There have been no speeches in the last two days, only money has been distributed," he said. "We will investigate all these things correctly."

He said the government would also review the country's anti-corruption commission's performance and respect for political parties.

"Our intention is to go to people who have shown a tendency to corruption or have committed known crimes," said Mr. Mahathir, when asked about a billions of dollars investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the government investment fund, Mr. Najib had once led

Opposition victory was the result of an alliance of former rivals, including Mr. Mahathir and people who opposed him and his former party. They were united, above all, by their contempt for Mr. Najib, and his fall raises the question of whether such cooperation will continue.

Politicians who were members of the opposition until a few days ago expect the alliance to continue despite a troubled past.

"I trust him at this time and age," said Tony Pua, a member of the Democratic Action Party, on Mr. Mahathir. "He is more interested in leaving the right legacy for the Malaysians and setting the record in the history books."

Mr. Pua said his party is no longer the strongest, unlike in the past, when Mahathir's party dominated the governing coalition.

"Consensus is needed and the experience over the last six months confirms that it is more than being able to make informed decisions," Pua said.

Mr. Ibrahim from the Merdeka Center stated that Mr. Mahathir also gives the new governing coalition an executive with the confidence of the bureaucracy and ethnic Malays that make up the majority of the population.

"There is simply enough confidence and pragmatism to hold the coalition together in the near future," Ibrahim said. "One reason is the magnitude of the victory, they have reached almost half of the votes, it is not a small majority."

Sharon Tan contributed to the coverage.


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