Anwar Ibrahim named Malaysia’s 10th prime minister


SINGAPORE – The wait is over. And it’s back.

Nearly a week after a general election in Malaysia resulted in a hung parliament, longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim appears to have done just that. He has secured enough support among disparate parties to form the next government for the Southeast Asian country, preventing the emergence of more conservative political forces – for the time being.

Anwar’s appointment as prime minister on Thursday brought a temporary end to a chaotic election season that saw the downfall of political titan Mahathir Mohamad, staggering gains by a far-right Islamist party and endless infighting among putative allies, caused in large part by gains by his party. Radical Islamist. Disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Razak indicted on charges of money laundering and abuse of power.

After consulting with state-level rulers earlier in the day, Malaysia’s king said Thursday afternoon that he had approved Anwar’s appointment as the country’s 10th prime minister, and Anwar was sworn in several hours later. In Malaysia, which is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, the head of government is formally appointed by the king.

The appointment, which some opponents objected to, marks a dramatic return for Anwar, 75, an international figure whose political rise, fall, and comeback spanned generations.

Anwar founded the country’s reformist political movement, which since the 1990s has rallied for social justice and equality. He is also known as a proponent of Islamic democracy and has previously expressed admiration for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was once seen as a moderate democrat. Islam is the state religion of Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has important economic and security ties with the United States, but other religions are widely practiced.

This Malaysian politician has been imprisoned and denounced. He is now on the cusp of power.

Former deputy prime minister under Mahathir, who was later considered his arch-rival before reconciliation, Anwar sought for decades to reach the highest political office in the country. Along the way, he gained the support and friendship of international leaders such as former US Vice President Al Gore. He also served two long prison terms for sodomy and corruption – convictions that Anwar and his supporters say are politically motivated.

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Anwar’s multi-ethnic reformist coalition, the Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, won 82 seats after last week’s election. The coalition was the largest single bloc, but still dozens of seats shy of the 112 it needed to form a majority. She raced against Prekatan Nasional (PN), a right-wing coalition that won 73 seats, to convince voters — as well as the country’s king, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang — that she had a mandate to form the next government.

Anwar’s accession became possible after Barisan Nasional, a conservative coalition that ruled Malaysia for most of its post-independence history, said it would not participate in an NLP-led government. Barisan Nasional won 30 seats in the latest polls, putting it in the kingmaking position.

Analysts say that while Anwar may have proven victorious, he now faces the acute challenge of uniting the country’s divided electorate.

“polarization [in Malaysia] It’s still going strong,” said Bridget Welsh, research associate at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute in Malaysia. She said that while Anwar has a strong image on the world stage, he has a “weak mandate” at home.

Anwar opposes affirmative action policies based on race which were a hallmark of previous governments led by the Patriotic Barisan. Some analysts credit the policies, which favor Malay Muslims, with creating a broad-based middle class in the country of 32.5 million people. But critics blame the laws for stoking racial hostility, driving young people from Malaysia’s Indian and Chinese minorities out of the country, and causing systemic corruption.

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In the run-up to the election, PNP leader and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin made an antisemitic claim that Anwar’s alliance was working with Jews and Christians to “Christianize” Malaysia.

Council of Churches of Malaysia convicted Muhyiddin and Anwar criticized his opponent’s statements, describing them as desperate. “I urge Muhyiddin to be a mature leader and not use racist propaganda to divide the pluralistic reality in Malaysia,” he said on Twitter.

Following the announcement of Anwar’s appointment, Muhyiddin held a press conference in which he called on his rival to prove that he had the necessary numbers to rule. He claimed that his coalition has the support of 115 deputies, which constitutes the majority.

Regardless of whether they support him, the appointment of a new prime minister allows Malaysians to put a pin through two years of political turmoil that included the resignation of two prime ministers, allegations of a power grab and snap elections in Central Equatoria. Monsoon season in the country. After the polls closed and it became clear that no single bloc could lead the majority on its own, confusion spread over who would lead the country. The king summoned the party leaders to the palace for hours of closed discussion, retracting his decision from day to day.

“We’ve been waiting for some stabilization, for the restoration of democracy, for some time,” said Adrian Pereira, a labor rights activist from the western state of Selangor. Voters are still eager to see what coalition Anwar has built and how power-sharing will work, he said, “but for now, it’s kind of a relief for everyone.”

Rafizi Ramli, deputy head of Anwar’s party, said Thursday that the new prime minister would lead a “national unity government”.

“We all need to move forward and learn to work together to rebuild Malaysia,” he added. a permit It also urged Malaysians to ease political tensions by avoiding “provocative” messages or gatherings.

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Analysis: Most people don’t know enough about Malaysia and its government. Here’s what you need to understand.

Among the biggest surprises in the election was the surge in support for the Malaysian Islamic Party, better known as PAS, which more than doubled its number of seats in parliament, from 18 to 49.And the He advocates for final Islamic rule in Malaysia and has emerged as a power broker in recent years, forming partnerships with other parties that support pro-Malay Muslim policies.

During Anwar’s coalition, PAS will be the largest single party in the lower house of Parliament.

And before Anwar took the oath, on Thursday evening, the leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party, Abdul Hadi Awang Post a statement Thank voters for their support. He said that “the party’s 71 years of struggle in Malaysia is increasingly being accepted by the people”.

James Chen, a professor at the University of Tasmania who studies Malaysian politics, said he was “astonished” by the electoral success of the PAS, which he sees as a reflection of a broader rise of political Islam in Malaysia.

Chen said that while Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia have long described themselves as moderate Islamic countries, this may now change. He noted that PAS has made its strongest gains in rural areas, and there is early evidence that it is gaining the support of new voters, including young Malays. Liberal and non-Malay Muslim voters now fear that the powerful PAS is in a position to expand its influence, including on education policies in the country.

“I knew that PAS had a lot of support in the Malay heartland … but I still didn’t know that they could expand so quickly,” Chen said. “Nobody did.”

Katrina Ang reported from Seoul and Emily Deng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Harry Raj in Seoul contributed to this report.


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