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Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia after 25 years of waiting



After five days of siege, Anwar Ibrahim was appointed Prime Minister of Malaysia yesterday. For him, the tense wait of not just five days, but 25 years, that he had been waiting for to seize power in this Southeast Asian country, was over. The broad coalition led by his Pakatan Harapan party won Saturday’s election with 82 MPs, but fell far short of the 112 needed for a majority. With 73 seats, it came on the heels of the ruling coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN), fumbling the possibility of agreements with other parties. Like heads or tails, the currency could have gone either way when Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah proposed a national unity government. But Muhyiddin Yassin, Anwar’s rival, rejected the proposal, a move that worked against him. For Anwar Ibrahim, 75, a quarter-century journey ends, and an even more difficult journey begins. Considered one of the brightest politicians in Southeast Asia, in 1982 he joined the party that has held power in Malaysia since its independence from Britain in 1957: the Malay National Unity Organization (UNMO), which led the National Front coalition. (Parisan National). In this formation he rose to become deputy prime minister in 1993 and head of economy in the government led by veteran Mahathir Mohamad, who appointed him as his successor. But their differences over how to deal with the 1997 Asian financial crisis strained their union, and in 1998 Mahathir ousted Anwar on charges of corruption and abuse of power amid protests from citizens. In an accusation he always defined as political revenge, Anwar fell out of favor when an aide denounced that he had raped him and ended up in jail for sodomy, a crime in Muslim Malaysia. Although the ruling was overturned in 2004, one of his aides denounced him again for the same thing in 2008, when he was leading the opposition. Due to a lack of evidence, a judge acquitted him in 2012, but an appeals court reopened the case two years later. In 2015, he was again sentenced to five years in prison for sodomy. Pardon King In separate interviews with ABC when he was released, in 2010 and 2014, he always denied the charges against him. Anwar, a moderate Muslim and reformist, explained, “It’s just a government strategy so that I can’t run for election.” While he was still in prison, his party won the 2018 elections in a new coalition formed with his mentor and later enemy, Mahathir Mohamad. Despite their rivalry, the two teamed up to bring down the ruling party over the corruption scandal of the state investment fund 1MBD, from which 4 billion euros disappeared and for which Prime Minister Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2020. Electoral victory The king of Malaysia pardoned Anwar, who joined Mahathir in the government and promised to relieve him after two years because he was already in his nineties. But this alliance collapsed again before the succession and Anwar returned to the opposition in May 2020. Two and a half years later, after a long wait of a quarter of a century and two imprisonments, he became the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

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