Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday said that the country’s monarch was willing to grant a full pardon to the jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim, paving the way for him to succeed the 92-year-old politician, The Guardian reported.
“We will begin the...proper process of obtaining a pardon,” Mohamad told reporters. This means a full pardon. He should be released immediately when he is pardoned.”
Both Anwar and Mohamad were in the government at one point, serving as prime minister and deputy respectively. However, Anwar was sacked in 1998 after a dispute with the coalition leadership and then led huge protests against Mahathir’s government. He was jailed a year later for abuse of power. In 2000, he was convicted of sodomy, and sentenced to nine years in prison. His case was seen as a political witch hunt as people in Malaysia are seldom convicted for sodomy though it is illegal in the conservative Muslim country.
After his conviction was briefly overturned, Ibrahim, the leader of the People’s Justice Party, led the Opposition alliance in the 2008 and 2013 general elections. The Opposition made unprecedented gains in the elections, but fell short of victory. He was sent back to jail again in 2015.
Earlier this year, Mahathir Mohamad, who had stepped down from office in 2003, announced his decision to contest the elections after the government of Najib Razak got embroiled in a billion-dollar corruption scandal. He teamed up with parties that had fought him during his two decades in power and ousted the Barisan National (National Front) coalition, which had led Malaysia since its independence from Britain in 1957.