US congratulates Anwar Ibrahim on taking office as Malaysia’s new prime minister

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Archive – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim – Mustaqim Khairuddin/BERNAMA/dpa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has congratulated Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on his appointment as prime minister following elections in the Asian country, while expressing Washington’s desire to work with Kuala Lumput for a «free and open» Indo-Pacific region.

«On behalf of the United States, I congratulate the people of Malaysia on their national elections and Anwar Ibrahim on his election as prime minister. Millions of Malaysians cast their votes, many for the first time, making the 15th general election a demonstration of the power of democracy,» he said.

Thus, he noted that «the United States and Malaysia have forged a strong relationship, a comprehensive partnership, rooted in close economic, people-to-people and security ties.» «We look forward to deepening our friendship and cooperation based on our shared democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law,» he added.

«We remain committed to working with Malaysia to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific region,» Blinken said, according to a statement released by the State Department.

Blinken’s remarks come after Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister after being appointed to the post by the king, Abullah of Pahang, following several days of talks to decide the formation of the government after weekend elections that resulted in a parliament without clear majorities that threatened political deadlock.

The politician was former President Mahathir Mohamad’s ‘number two’ 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 government 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.