Longtime Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim is the country’s new prime minister after the Southeast Asian nation’s palace announced Thursday an end to a protracted election deadlock.
Following a meeting with state rulers, the king appointed Anwar as the Southeast Asian nation’s tenth prime minister, according to the Malaysian constitution. Anwar will be sworn in at 5pm local time, the king said in an official announcement.
“Whether you win or lose the election, I urge you to stand together for our beloved country,” Raja said, according to a CNBC translation.
“As the country needs a strong and stable government to build the nation and strengthen the economy, it is important that our country is free from policy instability.”
Asking the elected members of parliament to serve the nation well, he thanked the state rulers for their help and insight to resolve the crisis.
Anwar’s appointment marks a more than 20-year wait for the former deputy prime minister, who spent two decades as opposition leader amid prison terms and political intrigue.
Social media erupted as Malaysians offered “dahnia” or congratulations to Anwar. Others took to Facebook and Twitter to follow the king’s decision, writing “Daulat Tuangu” or “Long live the king”.
Some netizens said they were “closing for the day” or “leaving the office early” to witness the swearing-in ceremony at the royal palace, Istana Negara.
“It’s bad timing,” one wrote on Twitter. Another said Anwar’s parents, who had witnessed his political struggles, cried over his appointment.
Anwar, a deputy to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s, was jailed for corruption and sodomy.
Listed stocks in Malaysia were in the green ahead of the announcement, but the KLCI index rose 3% shortly after. Telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd was among the top gainers as rubber glove maker Top Glove rose 6%. Genting Malaysia rose 5.16% and CIMB rose 3.45%.
The Malaysian ringgit rose more than one percent to 4.5070 against the greenback.
Malaysia’s general election on Saturday produced the country’s first hung parliament, with the king asking the leading coalitions to present their alliances on Tuesday to form a government and appoint their preferred prime minister.
Anwar Ibrahim campaigned during Malaysia’s 15th general election.
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But no decision was reached in Tuesday’s meeting Instead there was confusion over which leading coalition to support within kingmaker coalitions such as Barisan Nasional.
In Saturday’s election, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition – the largest in the country – won the largest number of parliamentary seats at 82, but still fell short of the number needed to form a government at 112. The current ruling coalition, Perigadon National, is in second place with 73 seats.
The parties and alliances need to secure 112 seats in the parliament out of 222 seats to form the government.
Malaysia has been in political turmoil since Anwar’s Pakatan won the 2018 electionThe 60-year reign came to an end Malaysia’s dominant coalition is Barisan Nasional.
Former Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Razak was not re-elected due to his involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
But Anwar was ready to take over the leadership in 2020, some Pakatan members defected to form a rival coalition called Perikatan National. This defection led to the fall of the Pakatan government.
— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.