KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday, after being released from imprisonment due to a royal pardon, that he would wait before taking over from Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.
Anwar had been in jail since 2015, when the Federal court approved a decision reversing his acquittal by a lower court and sentenced him to five years in prison for sodomy, allegations the leader said were politically motivated.
“I’ll be taking time off to give a series of talks in Harvard, Georgetown and a few Muslim countries,” Anwar told reporters at a press conference attended by an efe-epa journalist.
Ibrahim needs to win a seat in the parliament to be able to assume office.
Flanked by his wife Wan Azizah Ismail – the current deputy prime minister – the former opposition leader expressed complete support for the Mahathir government.
Anwar’s release came a week after the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition, formed by four opposition parties, scored a historic victory over the Barisan Nasional (National Front), led by Najib Razak, a coalition which had been in power since 1957.
Pakatan Harapan was formed in 2015 by an agreement between the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (Keadilan) and the National Trust Party (PAN).
In 2017, the coalition was joined by the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Pribumi), formed a year earlier by Mahathir, who had served as prime minister between 1981-2003.
Anwar is set to take over from the 92-year-old Mahathir as prime minister mid-term, as the latter has said he would be in office for just one or two years.
Pakatan Harapan’s election pledges include getting rid of corruption in the administration, removing the goods and services tax imposed in 2015, raising the minimum wage, reintroducing subsidies for vulnerable sections of society and establishing a national healthcare system.