Malaysia's Mahathir says he will remain leader for 1-2 years

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks during an election campaign in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks during an election campaign in Kuala Lumpur

Anwar Ibrahim, the jailed Malaysian politician who built the alliance that swept to power in last week's general election, has been freed.

Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, made a decision to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated.

It was a shared desire to remove scandal-ridden former-PM Najib Razak that forged the unlikely alliance between Anwar and Dr Mahathir, who came out of retirement to bring down his former protege.

A newly-declassified report on scandal-plagued Malaysia state fund 1MDB shows investigators expressed widespread concern about anomalies in its accounts, as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accelerates efforts to reopen probes into the company and the actions of his predecessor.

Jailed for six years, Anwar says he was kept in solitary confinement, singing 1960s pop tunes to stay sane and reading anything he could get, including the Quran, the Bible and Shakespeare.

"The hope is that Anwar and Mahathir will find a way to work together especially during this period of transition", said Rashaad Ali, research analyst with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

His daughter, lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, said the Pardons Board will meet on Wednesday, after which Anwar is expected to be released.

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Anwar and his supporters have long denied the sodomy allegations, saying they were concocted to destroy his political career. He said a prime minister, expected to be him, would be sworn in within a day. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", he said.

The volatile relationship between Anwar and Mahathir, from friends to foes to allies, has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for more than three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

Mr Mahathir sacked Mr Anwar as his deputy in 1998 amid a dispute over the management of the Asian financial crisis. He was later produced in court with a black eye from a beating by the police chief.

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. He led an opposition alliance to major gains in the last two elections, winning the popular vote in 2013.

The pardon allows Anwar to re-enter active politics immediately, but it was not clear what his role in government would be. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated. "Authoritarian leaders always believe the best way to deal with dissidents is to jail them, but throughout history, it has always backfired".

Even while in jail, Anwar said he had detected growing outrage among Malaysians against Najib, who has been accused of involvement in plundering billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. He and the fund have denied wrongdoing.

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