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Opposition leader Anwar sworn in as Malaysia’s PM

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister Thursday after the palace named the former deputy prime minister the country’s new leader following Saturday’s general election that resulted in a hung parliament.

Anwar’s multiethnic Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, is expected to form a government with the National Front coalition popularly known as BN, the former ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (C) celebrates at a hotel in a Kuala Lumpur suburb on Nov. 20, 2022, after Malaysia’s general election on the previous day. (Kyodo)

Neither of the two main coalitions, one led by Anwar and the other by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, could secure enough seats in parliament to form a government. Ismail Sabri’s coalition came in third in the vote tally.

Earlier Thursday, the palace issued a statement that appointed Anwar as the prime minister after King Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin ordered the leaders of the two main coalitions, over a series of meetings with them over the past two days, to find a way of forming a unity government.

Anwar, 75, who had served the deputy to then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad between 1993 and 1998, rose to the top in an extraordinary comeback after he spent a total of nine years in prison for corruption and sodomy, which he and rights groups maintained were charges trumped up by his political rivals.

While behind bars, Anwar became a symbol that united the opposition, which made significant strides in general elections beginning with the 1999 poll.

Anwar received a royal pardon and was freed after the 2018 general election in which PH beat BN, a coalition that had ruled since independence in 1957.

But PH’s rein was short-lived as it was brought down by political defection that saw BN return to power by joining forces with PN.

However, BN and PN’s marriage was marred by constant squabbles that pushed Ismail Sabri from BN and led to Saturday’s snap election.

Related coverage:

Malaysia faces hung parliament after election, ex-PM Mahathir loses

Malaysians vote in general election amid political instability

Malaysia PM dissolves parliament for early general election

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