Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as Malaysia’s new PM

(Update 1: Adds detail)

Kuala Lumpur, Nov 24 (EFE).- Long-serving opposition leader and reformist Anwar Ibrahim was appointed as Malaysia’s new prime minister on Thursday.

Anwar, who has been running for office for years and has spent almost a decade in prison on sodomy charges, was sworn in by King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah during a ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar’s coalition had obtained the highest number of votes in recently held general elections but failed to obtain an absolute majority, opening a period of negotiations.

The king announced Anwar’s appointment after a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the political situation with the country’s other sultans, who take turns to rule for five years.

Although the king is traditionally in charge of safeguarding the customs and traditions of Malaysia and does not usually intervene directly in politics, the close result of Saturday’s elections — the closest in the country’s history — led to his participation to end a political crisis of more than two years.

“After taking into 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,” a statement from the king’s office said.

As per the final vote count, the Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the conservative Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition won 82 and 73 seats respectively, much below the majority mark of 112, while the outgoing prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Barisan Nasional (BN) could only manage to secure 30 seats.

In principle, Anwar could lead a unity government with the support of both the PN and the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the founding and principal member of the BN coalition.

These elections mark the end of a political era in Malaysia, governed until 2018 by the UMNO, whose influence has waned mainly due to corruption scandals involving its leaders.

Anwar came close to leading the country after the PH’s victory in the 2018 elections under an agreement with then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad that he would hand over the post to him.

However, Mahathir’s resignation in 2020 sparked a political crisis in the country that is expected to end with Anwar’s appointment. EFE


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