Anwar Ibrahim makes history as tenth Malaysian prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim made history as Malaysia's tenth prime minister

Longtime Malaysian statesman Anwar Ibrahim is the country’s new prime minister after the Southeast Asian nation’s palace made the announcement on Thursday ending a protracted electoral deadlock.

After meeting with state leaders and in line with the Malaysian constitution, the king appointed Anwar as the Southeast Asian nation’s tenth prime minister. The king said in an official statement that Anwar would be sworn in at 5 pm local time.

“Whether you lost or won the election, I ask you to stand together for our beloved country,” he said, according to a translation by CNBC.

“It is important that our nation is free from political instability as the country needs a strong and stable government.”

He asked the elected members of parliament to continue to serve the nation well and extended gratitude to the state governors for their assistance as well as insight towards the resolution of the crisis.

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Anwar’s appointment ends a more than 20-year wait for the former deputy prime minister who has been opposition leader for two decades amid prison terms and political coups.

Listed shares in Malaysia were in the green before the announcement, but took another leg higher shortly after with the benchmark KLCI index up 3%. Telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd was among the top gainers, sitting more than 7% higher as rubber glove maker Top Glove climbed 6%. Genting Malaysia also rose 5.16% and CIMB rose 3.45%.

The Malaysian ringgit also jumped more than one percent to 4.5070 against the greenback.

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Malaysia’s general election on Saturday produced the nation’s first parliament, prompting the king to ask the main coalitions to present their alliances at 2pm local time on Tuesday to form the government and appoint his favorite prime minister.

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The parties and coalitions had to win a simple majority of 112 seats in the parliament, out of the 222 seats that are up for grabs, to form the government – but none of the coalitions were able to do so.

Malaysia has been in political upheaval since the opposition, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition – the country’s largest – won the 2018 election ending Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule.

Malaysia has been thrown into political chaos after former Prime Minister and former Barisan Nasional president Najib Razak fell from grace with his involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

But Anwar’s rival in the leadership race, Muhyiddin Yassin, and other Pakatan Harapan members defected in 2020 to form Perikatan Nasional.

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The defection led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

The Southeast Asian nation had three prime ministers including Muhyiddin.

In Saturday’s election, Pakatan won the highest number of parliamentary seats at 82, but still fell short of 112, the number needed to form the government.

The ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional was in second place with 73 seats. Party chairman Muhyiddin Yassin was one of the prime ministers in recent years, after he and other members of Pakatan Harapan defected in 2020 to form Perikatan Nasional.

The defection led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

Anwar, was former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s deputy in the 1990s before being thrown into prison for corruption and sodomy.

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

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