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Malaysian King Appoints Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim As PM

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Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, was appointed prime minister on Thursday by the king. The palace said in a statement that he will be sworn in at 5 pm local time. 

The appointment will end an unusual post-election crisis going on for five days after the polls ended inconclusively. 

Anwar Ibrahim’s political journey

Anwar’s selection marks the culmination of a three-decade political career that saw him go from Mahathir Mohammad’s pupil to a prisoner who had been found guilty of sodomy before becoming an opposition leader and then prime minister.

The general election ended in an unusually hung parliament as none of the two alliances of the major parties, one led by Anwar and the other by ex-premier Muhyiddin Yassin, were able to achieve the required seats in parliament to form the government. 

Anwar, 75, has been denied the prime minister’s position many times in the past. He was deputy prime minister in the 1990s and was appointed official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

Anwar’s journey has been greatly unusual from being an heir apparent, a prisoner convicted of sodomy, to become the longtime opposition leader. As a convict, he had spent almost 10 years for sodomy and corruption. However, he denied the charges saying that they were politically motivated and intended to finish his career. 

The unsurety around the election was believed to prolong political chaos in the country in Southeast Asia. During this time, the country changed three prime ministers which delayed government functioning imperative to boost economic recovery.

With 82 seats, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition won the most seats in the election on Saturday, followed by Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional group with 73. A simple majority of 112 is required to create a government.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had to take the decision to appoint the prime minister as both the two leaders, Anwar and Muhyiddin could not make an alliance together before the Tuesday deadline finished. 

Despite having a largely ceremonial role, the constitutional monarch has the power to name a premier who he thinks will have the support of the majority of lawmakers. In Malaysia’s distinctive constitutional monarchy, nine different royal families alternately elect kings to rule for five years.

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