Malaysia's jailed opposition icon to make spectacular return

Mahathir to stay up to two years as Malaysia PM

Mahathir to stay up to two years as Malaysia PM

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that the new government has banned more officials from leaving the country, amid an expanding corruption probe which targets many serving the previous government led by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mahathir, at that time said he had to remove Anwar because he was "not fit for office".

Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was aimed at crushing his alliance, which was making gains against Malaysia's long-ruling coalition government. Human rights groups were highly critical when the conviction was upheld, calling it politically motivated - a claim the government denied.

Once discussions are finalised with the Pardons Board, Anwar will be released from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital, says daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Smiling and waving to supporters, Anwar, dressed in a black suit and tie and his hair neatly swept back, was surrounded by his family, lawyers and prison guards before driving to the palace for an audience with King Sultan Muhammad V.

"The pardons board has already met and the king has granted a full pardon, which means all past convictions have been expunged", his lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah, said.

Asked to specify projects in the country which he had concerns about, Dr Mahathir said there were pieces of land being sold to Chinese companies to build large cities.

The alliance between Mahathir - who has been prime minister before - and Anwar came after years of feud as the latter was first jailed after Mahathir dismissed him as deputy prime minister in 1998.

"I am disappointed because I had hoped he could be prime minister as soon as possible", said Talib Ibrahim, an Anwar supporter outside the hospital.

"I will continue to ensure that the current prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) fulfils the promises for reforms he has made and we will ensure there are proper checks and balances".

Anwar was sent to prison in 1999 and released in 2004. The police action followed a complaint lodged by two leaders of the youth wing of Mahathir's political party, Bersatu.The police report of the complaint, reviewed by Reuters, alleges that vans emblazoned with the logo of the department of the prime minister and cabinet delivered boxes for 50 Birkin handbags to Pavilion Residences on Thursday evening.The report alleged that the boxes showed the name of the consignee as Rosmah Mansor.

The volatile relationship between Mahathir and Anwar has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for over three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

But Anwar's wife and deputy prime minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters later that Anwar was in no hurry to become prime minister. Without the pardon, Anwar would have been banned from politics for five years due to having a criminal record.

SEE ALSO: Malaysian election belongs to Mahathir: now what? .

Tensions within the ruling coalition, which are likely given differences between Mr Mahathir and Mr Anwar in the past, would raise doubts about the ability of the administration to deliver.

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