Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Friday that the country's head of state had agreed to pardon jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim, whose case has dominated Malaysian politics for years.
Anwar, once a leading light in the party that ruled Malaysia for decades, was jailed in 2015, after a trial he says was politically motivated.
Mahathir had promised, if elected, to free Anwar and eventually hand power over to him.
At a news conference Friday, Mahathir said King Muhammad V had given his consent to a pardon. "It is going to be a full pardon, which of course means that he should not only be pardoned, he should be released immediately when he is pardoned," Mahathir told reporters, a day after being sworn in as Prime Minister. "After that he will be free to participate fully in politics."
Anwar remains imprisoned since the 2015. He has long said the charges were an attempt to curb his political ascent.
Under current laws, Anwar's criminal record would bar him from political office for five years, but a royal pardon could pave the way for him to succeed Mahathir, who is 92.
Mahathir was sworn in on Thursday night by the king, Malaysia's constitutional ruler, following a momentous vote in which scandal-plagued incumbent Najib Razak was soundly beaten at the polls by his former mentor.
Mahathir's victory upended six decades of control by the Barisan Nasional coalition, which he himself formerly headed as Malaysia's Prime Minister from 1981 until 2003.
Addressing reporters Friday, Mahathir said his new government would reduce corruption to a minimum, state news agency Bernama reported.
Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, endorsed Mahathir and served as his deputy in the coalition to oust Najib. She was one of the dozens of opposition candidates elected Wednesday.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team