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Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim set to walk free

Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim set to walk free

He had been in hospital recovering from shoulder surgery.

He said that Anwar, a former enemy turned ally, may be just a member of parliament for a while.

Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, made a decision to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated.

In "an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister", Mahathir said, speaking by live video link from Kuala Lumpur to a Wall Street Journal CEO conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Mahathir - who ruled Malaysia from 1981-2003 - came out of retirement to oust scandal-tainted former premier Najib Razak in an astonishing election turnaround last week.

Anwar served as Dr Mahathir's deputy and finance minister before being removed from his post and incarcerated on sodomy and corruption charges, which human rights groups and foreign governments criticised as being politically motivated.

The volatile relationship between Anwar and Mahathir, from friends to foes to allies, has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for more than three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

The multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state investment fund, was a big factor in Mr Najib's fall from power.

Anwar is prime minister-in-waiting but unlikely to take over quickly from Mahathir Mohamad, who after leading Anwar's alliance in the election campaign has become the world's oldest leader at 92.

Officials in Anwar's political party said he was headed to an audience with Malaysia's king and was expected to address the public in the afternoon followed by a political rally in the evening.

"The first question I am taking is from TV3", he joked, alluding to the fact that the TV station had carried a lot of negative stories about him and other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders in the past before the pact took over Putrajaya.

"They want to end Anwar's political career, but they underestimated the wrath of the people", Anwar said at the time.

"Seeing him walk free makes me emotional, but the fight is not over", said Ridzuan Ismail, an Anwar supporter at the hospital.

He was serving as Mahathir's deputy during the veteran politician's first stint as prime minister when he was suddenly sacked in 1998, and later jailed for sodomy and corruption.

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.

He said it was Mahathir's prerogative to form the cabinet, but noted he had given assurances that he will consult party leaders. He has ordered a travel ban on Najib and his wife and replaced the former attorney general Mohamed Apandi Ali, who was appointed by Najib.

Najib denies any wrongdoing in connection with losses at the fund.

Anwar's freedom is expected to ease fears of a growing rift within the newly formed coalition government, after differences erupted between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role in the party.

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