Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim walks free

PKR political bureau member R. Sivarasa speaks to the media at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Pic by MOHD KHAIRUL HELMY MOHD DIN

Jailed Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim walked free on Wednesday after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for his return to national politics as the presumptive successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed following a stunning election upset.

The PKR president said the appointment would be made, in accordance with the original plan, during the mid-term of the new Pakatan Harapan government administration.

His sentence expires June 8 but the unexpected election win of his alliance led by former leader Mahathir Mohamad in May 9 polls led to his swift release.

"Indeed, we are going to build the government under Tun to run smoothly and change as much as we want, especially the demands for reform we have been emphasising all this time", she said after visiting Anwar at the Cheras Rehabilitation Centre here today.

Asked about Anwar's health, Dr Wan Azizah, who is the MP for Pandan, said her husband was recovering.

The process of releasing Datuk Seri Anwar will be carried out at the Rehabilitation Hospital in Cheras here without requiring the de facto leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to be taken back to the Sungai Buloh Prison, the Bernama news agency reported.

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Anwar, 70, is expected to be released tomorrow.

"It's truly a blessing with the release of Anwar, we can celebrate Ramadan with him", she said.

"The pardons board has already met and the king has granted a full pardon, which means all past convictions have been expunged", said Sivarasa Rasiah, Anwar's lawyer.

Mr Mahathir has promised to step aside for Mr Anwar to become prime minister within two years.

In a statement yesterday, PKR communication director Fahmi Fadzil said the party had been informed by the Prime Minister's Department that the Pardons Board will meet tomorrow.

Anwar had been serving a five-year prison sentence for sodomy charges he says were politically motivated.

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