Anwar Ibrahim makes history as tenth Malaysian prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim made history as the tenth Prime Minister of Malaysia

Malaysia’s long-serving statesman Anwar Ibrahim became the country’s new prime minister on Thursday after the Southeast Asian nation’s palace announced a long-running election deadlock.

After a meeting with the rulers of the state and in accordance with the Malaysian constitution, the king appointed Anwar as the tenth prime minister of the Southeast Asian country. The king said in an official statement that Anwar will be sworn in at 5:00 pm local time.

“Whether you win or lose the election, I ask you to stand together for our beloved country,” he said, according to a CNBC translation.

“It is important that our nation is free from political instability because the country needs a strong and stable government.”

He asked the elected members of parliament to continue serving the people and thanked the state rulers for their help and understanding in resolving the crisis.

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Anwar’s appointment follows a more than 20-year wait for the former deputy prime minister, who spent two decades as opposition leader during a prison and political coup.

In Malaysia, listed stocks were in the green ahead of the announcement, but soon after the benchmark KLCI rose 3% and gained another spot. Telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd was among the top gainers of more than 7% as rubber glove maker Top Glove rose 6%. Genting Malaysia also gained 5.16% and CIMB 3.45%.

The Malaysian ringgit also gained more than one percent against the greenback to 4.5070.

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Malaysia’s general election on Saturday created the country’s first parliament, prompting the king to ask leading coalitions to nominate their alliances by 2pm local time on Tuesday to form a government and nominate a prime minister of their choice.

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Parties and coalitions must win a simple majority of the 222 seats in parliament to form a government, but none of the coalitions did.

There has been political upheaval since the Malaysian opposition, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition – the country’s largest – won the 2018 election that ended Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule.

Malaysia has been plunged into political chaos after former prime minister and former Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Razak was embroiled in the multibillion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

But Anwar’s rival in the leadership race, Muhyiddin Yassin, and other members of Pakatan Harapan left in 2020 to form Perikatan Nasional.

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The exit led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

Since then, the Southeast Asian country has had three prime ministers, including Muhyiddin.

In Saturday’s election, Pakatan won the largest number of seats at 82, but fell short of the 112 seats needed to form a government.

In second place was Perikatan Nasional, the current ruling coalition with 73 seats. Party chairman Muhyiddin Yassin was one of the prime ministers in recent years after he and other members of Pakatan Harapan left to form Perikatan Nasional in 2020.

The exit led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

Anwar was a deputy to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s and was previously jailed for corruption and impeachment.

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

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