Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim appointed Malaysia's new prime minister

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The Alliance of Hope led Saturday's election with 82 seats, less than the 112 needed for a majority, but won an alliance to form a government. Its leader is a 75-year-old veteran politician who has been imprisoned several times

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Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim appointed Malaysia's new prime minister

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim greets supporters as he arrives at a nomination center for the upcoming general election in Tambun, Malaysia, Saturday, November 5, 2022. The Malaysian king appointed on Thursday, November 24 from 2022 to Anwar as president of the country. prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after a divisive general election produced a divided Parliament. (AP Photo/John Shen Lee)

Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah appointed reformist opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday >, as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after divisive general elections spawned a parliament divided .

Anwar's Alliance of Hope led Saturday's election with 82 seats, less than the 112 needed for a majority. An unexpected surge of ethnic Malay support propelled former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's right-leaning National Alliance to win 73 seats, with its ally Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party emerging as the largest single party with 49 seats.

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim appointed Malaysia's new prime minister

Flags fly outside the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/FL Wong )

The deadlock was resolved after the ruling bloc led by the United Malays National Organization agreed to support a unity government under Anwar. Such a link 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.

“His Royal Highness reminds all parties that winners do not win everything and losers they don't lose everything”, read a statement from the palace. The monarch urged Anwar and his new government to be humble, saying all opposing parties must reconcile to ensure a stable government and end Malaysia's political turmoil, which has led to three prime ministers since the 2018 election. /p>

The palace statement said the king was satisfied that Anwar is the candidate likely to have majority support, but gave no details of the new government

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim appointed Malaysia's new PM

FILE- Then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, right, raises the hand of reform icon Anwar Ibrahim during a rally in Port Dickson, Malaysia, on October 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)

Police have tightened security across the country as social media posts warned of racial issues if Anwar's multi-ethnic bloc won. Anwar's party has urged his supporters to refrain from celebratory rallies or issuing sensitive statements to avoid the risk of provocation.

Anwar's rise to the top crowns his political roller coaster ride and ease fears about further Islamization. But he faces an uphill task to bridge racial divisions that deepened after Saturday's election, as well as revive an economy battling rising inflation and a currency that has fallen to its weakest point. Malays make up two-thirds of Malaysia's 33 million people, who include large Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities.

“He will have to make compromises with other actors in the government, which means the reform process will be more inclusive,” said Bridget Welsh, an expert on Southeast Asia politics. “Anwar is a globalist, which will reassure international investors he has been seen as a builder of bridges between communities, which will test his leadership in the future, but at the same timeoffers a reassuring hand for the challenges that Malaysia will face.”

Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim has been appointed Malaysia's new prime minister

FILE – Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim shows his inked finger to the media after voting at a polling station in Seberang Perai, Penang state, Malaysia, on November 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File )

Anwar was a former deputy prime minister whose dismissal and imprisonment in the 1990s sparked massive street protests and a reform movement that became a major political force. Thursday marked the second victory for his reform bloc, the first being the historic 2018 election that led to the first regime change since Malaysia's independence from Britain in 1957.

Anwar he was in prison at the time on a charge of sodomy which he said was politically motivated. He was pardoned and was to replace Mahathir Mohamad. But the government collapsed after Muhyiddin defected and joined UMNO to form a new government. Muhyiddin's government was beset by internal rivalries and he resigned after 17 months. UMNO leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob was then chosen by the king as prime minister.

Many rural Malays fear losing their privileges with greater pluralism under Anwar. Fed up with corruption and infighting at UMNO, many opted for Muhyiddin's bloc in Saturday's vote.

(With information from AP)

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