Reformist Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as new Malaysian PM

Longtime Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as the country’s new prime minister.

The ceremony marked a victory for political reformers who have been embroiled in a struggle with Malayan nationalists for days after divisive general elections led to a hanging parliament.

Broadcast live on national television, Mr Anwar took his oath of office in a simple ceremony at the National Palace on Thursday evening.

Malaysia’s King, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, named 75-year-old Mr Anwar as the nation’s 10th head of state after saying he was satisfied Mr Anwar was the candidate likely to garner majority support.

The new leader’s Alliance of Hope bloc led Saturday’s election with 82 seats, fewer than the 112 needed for a majority.

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Mr. Anwar takes the oath of office (Pool via AP)

An unexpected surge in ethnic Malay support saw former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s right-wing National Alliance win 73 seats, with its ally Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party becoming the largest single party with 49 seats.

The standoff was resolved after the long-ruling bloc led by the United Malays National Organization agreed to back a unity government led by Mr Anwar.

Such a connection was once unthinkable in Malaysian politics, long dominated by rivalry between the two parties. Other influential groups on the island of Borneo have said they will follow the king’s decision.

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The car carrying Mr Anwar arrives at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur (Pool via AP)

“His Royal Highness reminds all parties that winners do not win everything and losers do not lose everything,” the palace said in a statement.

Urging Mr Anwar and his new government to be humble, the monarch said all opposing parties should reconcile to ensure stable government and end the political turmoil in Malaysia, which has resulted in three prime ministers since 2018.

The statement did not provide details on the formation of the government.

Mr Muhyiddin, 75, has refused to concede defeat. At a press conference, he urged Mr Anwar to prove he supports the majority of lawmakers to allay doubts about his leadership.

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Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference in Subang, Malaysia (Vincent Thian/AP)

Police have tightened security across the country as social media posts warned of racial issues if Mr Anwar’s multi-ethnic bloc wins.

Mr Anwar’s party has urged supporters to refrain from solemn gatherings or sensitive statements to avoid the risk of provocation.

His rise to the top caps his political rollercoaster ride and will allay fears of greater Islamization. But he faces a tall order to bridge the racial divide that deepened after Saturday’s election and revitalize an economy struggling with rising inflation and a currency that has fallen to its weakest point.

Malaysians make up two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million population, which includes large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia policy expert, said: “He will have to make compromises with other actors in government, which means the reform process will be broader.

“Anwar is a globalist, which will reassure international investors. He is seen as a bridge builder between communities, which will test his leadership skills while offering a reassuring hand for the challenges Malaysia will face.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/reformist-anwar-ibrahim-sworn-in-as-new-malaysian-pm-42169866.html Reformist Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as new Malaysian PM

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