• Anwar Ibrahim has been tapped to be the next Malaysian prime minister.
  • He had a rollercoaster ride to the top, after spending years in jail on sodomy and corruption charges.
  • He finally landed the job on Thursday, after 20 years of leading Malaysia’s opposition.

Malaysia’s new prime minister has had a wild ride to the top — he finally clinched the top job on Thursday after spending years in jail and two decades as Malaysia’s opposition leader. 

The 75 year-old’s fate had hung in the balance for close to a week after elections on November 19 led to a hung parliament.

The parties vying for power were the Pakatan Harapan alliance, led by Anwar, and ex-premier Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional coalition. Neither coalition was able to reach the simple majority of 112 seats required to form government after Saturday’s vote.

Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah intervened after coalition talks failed, and spoke to Malaysia’s nine state monarchs to figure a way out of their predicament.

The sultan made an announcement on Thursday for there to be a unity government in Malaysia, with Anwar as its leader. This ended the political deadlock between the two major political alliances.

“After going through the views of the other Malay rulers, HRH has granted his consent to appoint DS Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister,” the palace said in a statement seen by the South China Morning Post.

“HRH reminds all parties that the winners do not win all and the losers do not lose everything,” the statement read.

Anwar has spent two decades vying for the top job

Anwar was Malaysia’s deputy prime minister in the 1990s, serving under then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He was sacked by Mahathir in 1998, and later arrested and charged with crimes including sodomy and corruption.

In 1999, he was convicted on a corruption charge and sentenced to six years in prison. Then in 2000, he was convicted on a sodomy charge and given a nine year prison sentence. He was freed in 2004 after being acquitted of that sodomy charge.

But that wasn’t the end of it. In 2008, a man accused Anwar of sodomizing him. Anwar was convicted of that sodomy charge and sentenced to five years in prison in March 2014. 

Anwar has consistently denied these charges and called them politically motivated. 

Anwar received a royal pardon in May 2018, after Pakatan Harapan won the election that year. 

Malaysia is now set to swear in its new prime minister at 5 p.m. local time on Thursday. 

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