After many days of post-election gridlock, Malaysia’s seasoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been named the nation’s next prime minister.
After the weekend’s elections produced an unprecedented hung parliament, King Sultan Abdullah appointed the next leader.
The simple majority required to establish a government had not been gained by either Mr. Anwar or former premier Muhyiddin Yassin.
The king will swear in Mr. Anwar at 17:00 local time (09:00 GMT).
According to news agency AFP, the palace issued a statement that read, “His Majesty has given authorization to designate Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia after taking into consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers.”
Despite having the largest percentage of seats gained in the election on Saturday, Mr. Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) party is unable to form a government on its own.
It’s not immediately obvious with which party he’ll form a coalition.
It took five days of difficult discussions to agree on a new administration; during that time, different party alliances and coalitions were proposed and ultimately rejected.
Finding a viable majority was challenging because of the personal and ideological conflicts among many of the political leaders.
The 75-year-appointment, old’s though, completes a decades-long ambition to rule the nation.
Anwar Ibrahim: Taking charge of Malaysia has long been a goal
In the 1990s, when he initially held the position, Mahathir Mohammad, the nation’s then-prime minister, was widely expected to be succeeded by him.
But under Mr. Mahathir, he was found guilty of sodomy twice, charges that Mr. Anwar says were politically motivated. This is what ultimately took him down.
However, as opposition to then-prime minister Najib Razak mounted over the massive 1MDB scandal, Mr. Mahathir emerged from retirement, made amends with Mr. Anwar, and together the two of them helped the ruling party suffer its first-ever defeat in 2018, which resulted to Mr. Anwar’s pardon by the king.
The agreement they formed, however, that Mr. Mahathir, who was already in his 90s, would transfer the PM’s post to Mr. Anwar, failed in 2020, and the top position again eluded him.
Now that he has accomplished his objective, he must cooperate with some of his most adamant political adversaries while dealing with extremely difficult economic and political circumstances brought on by Covid.
Non-Malays in Malaysia will feel a little relieved that Mr. Anwar’s reformist Pakatan Harapan would be leading the country’s new administration.
The hardline Islamist party PAS, which non-Malaysians believed would push for a more repressive and intolerant form of governance, dominates the rival Perikatan Nasional.
Given all the other difficulties the new government will encounter, Mr. Anwar’s objective of creating a more pluralist and inclusive Malaysia won’t be easy to achieve.