Malaysian king appoints opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as new prime minister

Malaysia's
Malaysia’s Prime Minister-designate, Anwar Ibrahim – Izzuddin Abd Radzak/BERNAMA/dpa

Malaysia’s King Abdullah of Pahang on Thursday appointed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as the new prime minister after several days of talks to decide on the formation of the government following weekend elections, which resulted in a parliament without clear majorities that threatened a political deadlock.

The auditor of the Royal House of Malaysia, Ahmad Fadil Shamsudin, has emphasized that the decision has been taken «after careful considerations» and has announced that the new Prime Minister will take office at 17.00 hours (local time) this Thursday, according to the Malaysian newspaper ‘New Straits Times’.

He also stressed that the king has called on political parties to put aside their differences and unite to move the country forward. «His Majesty stressed that this country is an inheritance from the leaders who were its custodians and must be taken care of to be handed over to the next generation,» he said.

In this sense, he has emphasized that the population should not suffer the letter of endless political crises and has appealed for a stable government to improve the economic situation. For this reason, he demanded that «a federal government be formed immediately after a careful and in-depth process».

The most voted alliance was the Alliance of Hope (Pakatan Harapan), led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, with 82 seats out of the 220 seats in the parliament, followed by the National Alliance (Perikatan Nasional) of former Prime Minister Muhyidin Yasin, with 73 seats. In third place came the National Alliance (Barisan Nasional), of the current head of the country’s government, Ismail Sabri Yaqub, with 30 seats.

However, all fell far short of the 111 seats needed to achieve a majority in an election that confirmed the demographic shift in a country where six million more young people have been able to cast their vote after the change in the electoral law and, fed up with the political chaos that has dominated Malaysia for the last four years, as well as the economic crisis, have divided their loyalties among the three major alliances.

Thus, Anwar Ibrahim will assume the post of Prime Minister for a few hours after years leading the opposition in the Asian country. The politician was the ‘number two’ of former President Mahathir Mohamad during the 1990s when he was Prime Minister, although the two drifted apart during the financial crisis that shook the continent between 1997 and 1999.

After that, he was dismissed from the ruling party and created the Reform movement, although he was arrested weeks later and convicted on charges of «sodomy» and corruption. After being released in 2004, he was jailed again for «sodomy» in 2015, with Najib Razak in power.

The politician received a pardon from the Royal House in 2018 that allowed him to leave prison ahead of schedule, after which he announced his return to politics and returned in 2020 his position as opposition leader, from which he has led the efforts of the Alliance of Hope coalition to prevail in the last elections.