Malaysia's Anwar walks free following pardon

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 16 2018 11:49 AM | Updated as of May 16 2018 03:00 PM

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim gestures as he leaves a hospital where he is receiving treatment, ahead of an audience with Malaysia's King, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia May 16, 2018. Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim walked out of custody on Wednesday after being pardoned over a sodomy conviction that saw him jailed for the past three years, paving the way for his return to national politics.

Smiling and looking spry in a tailored black suit, Anwar emerged from a Kuala Lumpur hospital where he had undergone surgery for a shoulder problem, giving a thumbs-up to a crowd of journalists before leaving in a car without comment.

Anwar was heir-apparent to the premiership until Mahathir Mohamad sacked him in 1998 and he was subsequently jailed for sodomy and abuse of power.

Now 70, he was imprisoned again in 2015 during Najib Razak's rule -- after making historic gains as the head of the opposition at the 2013 elections.

But in a dramatic turnaround, his party joined forces with his former nemesis to inflict a shock defeat last week on the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, ending its six-decade stranglehold on power.

Mahathir told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he would be in power for one to two years, before an expected handover to Anwar, who is due to be released on Wednesday.

Malaysia's king has agreed to pardon him, paving the way for his return to politics.