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Malaysia’s King Appoints Ex-Con as Prime Minister

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Malaysia's King Appoints Ex-Con as Prime Minister

Malaysia’s king appointed long-time opposition leader and ex-con Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister on Thursday, and he was be sworn in at 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), ending a five-day post-election crisis.

Anwar’s appointment brings to a close a three-decade political career that has seen him progress from a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohammad to a prisoner convicted of sodomy to opposition leader and, finally, prime minister.

A general election on Saturday produced an unprecedented hung parliament, with neither of the two main alliances, one led by Anwar and the other by ex-premier Muhyiddin Yassin, able to secure enough seats in parliament to form a government right away.

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Anwar, 75, has been denied the premiership several times despite being within striking distance: he was deputy prime minister in the 1990s and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

In the interim, he spent nearly a decade in prison for sodomy and corruption, which he claims were politically motivated charges intended to end his career.

The election uncertainty threatened to prolong political instability in Malaysia, which has had three prime ministers in three years, and risks delaying policy decisions necessary to promote economic recovery.

Anwar’s coalition, known as Pakatan Harapan, received 82 seats in Saturday’s election, while Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional bloc received 73. A simple majority of 112 is required to form a government.

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The long-ruling Barisan bloc received only 30 seats, the lowest electoral performance for a coalition that had dominated politics since the country’s independence in 1957.

Barisan stated on Thursday that it would not support a Muhyiddin-led government, but made no mention of Anwar.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah made the decision on the prime minister after both Anwar and Muhyiddin missed his Tuesday afternoon deadline to form an alliance.

The constitutional monarch is largely ceremonial, but he has the authority to appoint a premier who he believes will command a majority in parliament.

Malaysia has a one-of-a-kind constitutional monarchy in which kings are chosen in turn from the royal families of nine states to reign for five years.

 

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