Kuala Lumpur, May 11 (IANS) Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said the countrys monarch is willing to grant a full pardon to jailed opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim, paving the way for his imminent release.
The announcement came a day after 92-year-old Mahathir was sworn in after a shocking win that toppled long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition mired in a $3.2 billion corruption scandal, the BBC reported.
Anwar, once considered a potential future leader, was jailed on charges of corruption and sodomy after falling out with the government.
But Mahathir, the Prime Minister under whom he was first jailed, won the general election on a pledge of freeing him. He has indicated he will hand over power to Anwar within a few years.
But Anwar will need to contest and win a by-election after he is freed to become a member of Parliament before he takes on the top job.
“The (King) has indicated he is willing to pardon Anwar immediately,” Mahathir told a news conference in Petaling Jaya.
“It is going to be a full pardon which of course means that he should not only be pardoned, he should be released immediately when he is pardoned. After that he will be free to participate fully in politics,” said Mahathir.
Anwar and Mahathir, former allies and then implacable foes, joined forces to contest the general election and oust the administration of Najib Razak.
Mahathir’s win, at the head of the Pakatan Harapan, ended more than six decades of rule by the BN coalition led by Najib.
The Prime Minister on Thursday said he would prioritise stabilising the economy and return billions of dollars lost in a corruption scandal at the state sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The scandal became a major factor in the election and in the defeat of Najib, Mahathir’s former protege.
Mahathir held a meeting of top alliance partners as he got down to the business of forming a government that, for the first time in the country’s history, would not be from the BN coalition.
He said he would announce a 10-member Cabinet on Saturday, including Ministers for Finance, Defence and Home Affairs.