Monday, 28 May, 2018

Malaysia's Anwar walks free following pardon

Pakatan Harapan intends for Anwar to be elected to Parliament and made prime minister following his pardon Pakatan Harapan intends for Anwar to be elected to Parliament and made prime minister following his pardon
Sammy Stanley | 16 May, 2018, 07:28

Anwar was due to walk free on June 8, but the fast-tracking of his release - via an expected full royal pardon from Malaysia's King Muhammad V of Kelantan, due Wednesday - will allow him to re-enter politics nearly immediately, rather than waiting the five years required by the constitution.

The pardons board met on Wednesday morning, giving a reprieve to the long-time opposition leader who was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years in jail, which was considered to be a politically-motivated charge.

Anwar is expected to be released from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital, where he has been recovering from shoulder surgey.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia's king had agreed to pardon Anwar, who. He will meet with the king at the national palace and then speak to supporters at a rally on Wednesday evening. Without the pardon, Anwar would have been banned from politics for five years due to having a criminal record.

The former prime minister has been blocked from leaving the country and a complaint has been filed against him to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission alleging he personally blocked an investigation into the US$3.2bn 1MDB scandal.

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Mahathir had previously said he would remain prime minister for two years before stepping down for Anwar to take over.

"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".

Once seen as a potential future leader, he had been jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption after falling out with the government.

Now 70, he was imprisoned again in 2015 during Najib's rule - after making historic gains as the head of the opposition at the 2013 elections.

Mahathir said in the past he will stand aside for Anwar as soon as he is elected as an MP, but the agreement appears to have shifted. But Anwar needs to win a by-election to become a parliamentary member first. Wearing a white shirt printed with a photograph of Anwar and the words "March 2 Freedom", he said he nevertheless believed Anwar and Mahathir could work together and that the alliance's prospects were good.

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