Malaysia’s king has agreed to pardon jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim at once, newly installed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday.
“The [king] has indicated he is willing to pardon Datuk Sri Anwar immediately,” Mahathir told a press conference, using a Malay honorific.
It came a day after the 92-year-old was sworn in after a shock win that toppled the country’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib Razak.
“We will begin the … proper process of obtaining a pardon for Datuk Sri Anwar,” said Mahathir.
“This means a full pardon. He should be released immediately when he is pardoned.”
Mahathir has promised to eventually hand the premiership over to Anwar, his former nemesis turned ally in an opposition alliance formed to take on scandal-plagued former prime minister Razak.
Mahathir’s reconciliation with Anwar has been one of the most remarkable aspects of an electrifying election race.
Anwar was a senior figure in government and Mahathir’s heir-apparent until the pair dramatically fell out.
Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998 over political differences, and he was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power, in a case widely condemned as politically motivated.
Anwar was jailed again during Najib’s rule. He was already slated to come out of prison in June.