Jailed Malaysian Reformist Anwar Ibrahim Free After Royal Pardon

Pic Bernama

Anwar was freed in 2004 but in 2015, he was jailed again - for five years - for sodomizing a former aide, a charge he and his supporters describe as a politically motivated attempt by Najib to end his career.

Mr Mahathir said he was sick of the corruption allegations plaguing the incumbent, Najib Razak, another of his former allies.

The move paves the way for a political comeback for the reformist icon and it follows a stunning election victory for the opposition alliance he backed.

Speaking about Mr Mahathir's behaviour during his first prime ministership, Ibrahim Suffian, executive director of the Merdeka Center, an independent survey group, said: "Many of his allies suffered during his time as prime minister".

Mr Anwar left the Cheras rehabilitation hospital in Kuala Lumpur where he was temporarily serving his sentence after an operation on his shoulder, on Wednesday at 11.30am local time (3.30am BST).

Media captionAnwar Ibrahim says the opposition's election victory is "a new dawn" for Malaysia. A long-standing proponent of reform in Malaysia's ethnocentric and nepotistic political sphere, Anwar has regularly been targeted by political opponents, including Mahathir, the man who finally secured his freedom.

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Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with a logo of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tensions between them.

Anwar's release caps a remarkable reversal of fortune made possible by the BN's unexpected electoral drubbing a week ago.

The 92-year-old Mahathir is the chairman of the alliance and Anwar is its de facto leader.

Before he can become Prime Minister, Anwar must first contest a by-election to become a Member of Parliament.

Senior officials at scandal-plagued state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) withheld information from its board and took some decisions without the board's approval, according to a Malaysian government audit of the fund that was declassified on Tuesday. Mahathir then joined forces with Anwar, his former arch nemesis, whom he once sent to jail on a sodomy charge.

On Wednesday, Mahathir's government effectively abolished a goods and services tax that has been blamed for raising the cost of living for the poor and was a factor in the shock defeat of Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition, which had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

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Mahathir told the conference that there will be "no deal" with Najib over the graft scandal.

Dr Mahathir added that he would later play a role "in the background" after stepping down.

Mahathir has barred Najib and his wife from leaving the country.

"We are slowly getting to the bottom of things".

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.

Dr Mahathir said the focus on corruption was important especially 1MDB as well as the money that had been misappropriated by the previous government.

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