Anwar Ibrahim has been named Malaysia’s new prime minister, marking an incredible comeback for a man who was first lined up for the job in the boom years of the 1990s before he was suddenly sacked and jailed.
Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition won the most seats in the weekend’s election, but no one party or coalition emerged with the 112 seat parliamentary majority necessary to form a government.
PH and the rival conservative Malay-Muslim Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition under former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, which had the second-highest number of seats, both began negotiations to form a government, wooing smaller coalitions in the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak as well as Barisan Nasional (BN), the alliance that dominated Malaysia for some 60 years before its historic defeat in the last elections in 2018.
With neither able to make a breakthrough, King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah met Anwar and Muhyiddin as well as newly elected members of parliament to canvas their views on who should lead the new government.
After a meeting of the royal households on Thursday, the king announced that Anwar would become prime minister because he had the support of the majority of Malaysia’s 222 members of parliament.
There are “no absolute winners and no absolute losers,” he said in the statement, urging all politicians to work together for the benefit of the country.
King Sultan Abdullah said the 75-year-old would be sworn in at a ceremony at the palace at 5pm (09:00 GMT).