Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim named prime minister

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim has been named the new prime minister of Malaysia, the royal palace said Thursday. He will be sworn in today at 5 pm local time. The royal rulers had met in an effort to end the political impasse in the country following inconclusive polls. 

“After taking into the consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers, His Majesty has given consent to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia,” the statement said.

Five days after an election, Malaysia was still waiting to get a new government as the two contenders–Anwar Ibrahim and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin–did not have enough support for a majority. 

After the polls, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition won 82 seats, falling short of the required 112-seat majority. Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) bloc grabbed 73.

Muhyiddin later told reporters that the king had asked both of them to form a unity government with Ibrahim.

Malaysia’s king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, has the discretionary power to appoint a premier whom he believes has the majority of lawmakers’ support.

Anwar’s appointment caps a three-decade long journey. He started off as a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad, became a protest leader, was imprisoned and convicted of sodomy, then took over as opposition leader and has finally become the prime minister.

The 75-year-old has come close to the top spot a few times earlier. In the 1990s, he was the deputy prime minister and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018. Between these two times, he was jailed and sentenced for sodomy and corruption in what he says were politically motivated charges aimed at ending his career.

Anwar leads a multi-ethnic coalition of parties with progressive leanings.

(With inputs from agencies)

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