Malaysia's king to pardon opposition leader

Blanche Robertson
May 13, 2018

Later yesterday, Najib - who has been under growing pressure from inside his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition since the landslide loss - announced he was quitting as head of BN as well as its main party.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says he will take a short holiday to spend time with his family after a shocking electoral defeat that ended the 60-year rule of his coalition. Said Dr Mahathir: "We have to act quickly because we don't want the problem of extradition with other countries".

After the ban on his travel was announced, Najib said in a Twitter message that he would respect the decision and would remain in the country.

Mahathir told a news conference that Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V, in a meeting with opposition leaders, had agreed to grant Anwar a royal pardon.

Mr Najib has been accused of diverting $700m (£517m) from a state investment fund in 2015, but has since been cleared by the authorities.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has backed calls for his cousin, party president and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak to relinquish his posts.

On the campaign trail, Dr Mahathir lambasted Mr Najib as a "thief" and in the aftermath of his election win, he said he is not seeking revenge but the rule of law will be fully implemented.

Increasing indignation: Najib's defeat in Wednesday's election came amid growing public anger over the 1MDB scandal and the rising cost of living.

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'We need to have this government today without delay, ' Mahathir, 92, said before Malaysia's king at the state palace in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Najib said his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also the former deputy prime minister, would take over as the new president of UMNO, the main component of the alliance.

Mahathir, the world's oldest elected leader, had retired as premier in 2003 after over two decades in the top job but staged a surprising comeback in a bid to oust his ex-protege Najib.

"Maybe this will be an opportunity for us to fix our weaknesses and shortcomings, although these are more a matter of perceptions than reality."

US President Donald Trump has congratulated Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia on his electoral victory, with the White House saying America is looking forward to working closely with it to address common global and regional challenges.

But Mr Mahathir, the Prime Minister under which he was first jailed, just won an election on a pledge of freeing him.

The three new ministers, all leaders of the component parties of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, are finance minister Lim Guan Eng, defense minister Mohamad Sabu and minister of home affairs Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mahathir said he would name the rest of his 25-member Cabinet this coming week.

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