Anwar walks free from prison and into political limelight

Mahathir Mohamad insisted that he respected the right to freedom of speech but the move is likely to alarm liberals

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. He had been in hospital recovering from shoulder surgery.

Xavier Jayakumar, a member of parliament with Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat, called it "a momentous day for all of Malaysia".

Nurul Izzah, Anwar's daughter, said her father's release was a gift ahead of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan which begins on Thursday in Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad on Tuesday said he will remain in office for at least one to two years.

Anwar joined forces with his old ally-turned-foe-turned ally, 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, to oust scandal-tainted former premier Najib Razak.

In his four-decade career, Anwar has changed his political colors with the readiness of a chameleon in an ambitious pursuit of leadership in the multiethnic, Muslim-majority country.

Mahathir was spurred out of retirement by a corruption scandal at 1MDB, a state fund that is being investigated by the USA and several other countries after associates of defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly stole and laundered $4.5 billion from it.

Mr Mahathir has promised to step aside for Mr Anwar to become prime minister within two years.

Anwar is seeking a royal pardon on the grounds of "miscarriage of justice", which would reverse his conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", Mahathir said.

"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.

He rose quickly, eventually becoming deputy prime minister and Mahathir's presumed successor.

In a U-turn previous year, Anwar shook hands with Mahathir and agreed to join forces to oust scandal-tainted Najib. Both times, he and his supporters have said the charges were politically motivated.

"I am disappointed because I had hoped he could be prime minister as soon as possible", said Talib Ibrahim, an Anwar supporter outside the hospital.

Now 70, he was imprisoned again in 2015 during Najib's rule - after making historic gains as the head of the opposition at the 2013 elections. Once a high flyer in the ruling party, Anwar was convicted of homosexual sodomy and corruption after a power struggle with Mahathir in 1998.

"I think we need to let Mahathir do his work to save Malaysia and to get back its system of government".

Mahathir has removed the Najib-era attorney general, treasury chief, and anti-corruption agency chief as he ordered officials to step up investigations. "If there is no case against him, we don't go for detention without trial", Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report. Mr Apandi cleared Mr Najib of any wrongdoing in connection with the misappropriation of billions of dollars from 1MDB.

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