Mahathir to stay up to two years as Malaysia PM

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir might stay up to two years in post

"No deal", Mahathir said in the interview, conducted for a business forum organised by the newspaper in Tokyo. It is a step that can be immediately pursued, rather than waiting the five years stipulated in the country's constitution, due to a royal pardon from Malaysia's king.

Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, chose to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated.

The ruling alliance wasted no time in preparing a hero's welcome for their icon.

Anwar is expected to thank supporters at a rally later on Wednesday. He quickly rose up the ranks, becoming finance minister in 1991 and deputy prime minister two years later.

Mahathir has said he expects to run the government for up to two years but has signalled the reins would be turned over to the Anwar eventually.

"I will play a role in the background even when I step down".

Mahathir has named just three ministers so far in addition to himself and Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as deputy prime minister. His wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who heads Anwar's party, is now the new deputy prime minister.

Nurul Izzah, Anwar's daughter, said her father's release was a gift ahead of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan which begins on Thursday in Malaysia.

Anwar's release on Wednesday will cap a tumultuous two decades he has endured. When Anwar made a push to increase his power, Mahathir had him jailed on politically-motivated sodomy charges.

Mahathir also said he will find a replacement for the head of the anti-corruption authority, after the resignation of former one.

It was Anwar's second spell in prison.

The freed politician was the heir apparent to then-premier Mahathir until 1998, when he was sacked and charged for corruption and sodomy.

"They want to end Anwar's political career, but they underestimated the wrath of the people", Anwar said at the time.

Mahathir was once Najib's mentor but he left the former ruling party over the 1MDB affair and joined the opposition.

The agenda for the Mahathir government includes scrapping a goods-and-services tax, reviewing large infrastructure projects, reintroducing fuel subsidies and cutting spending. Ironically, as Anwar emerges from prison, the prospect of Najib facing prosecution looks increasingly likely.

"It has never been about our father but doing it because it is right", she said when met at the hospital, where Anwar has been undergoing treatment following surgery.

To become prime minister, Mr Anwar must win a seat in parliament.

Najib has repeatedly denied allegations that some US$700 million found in his bank accounts were funnelled from 1MDB.

Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with an image of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tension between them. U.S. investigators say some US3.5 billion was misappropriated from the fund. Tun Dr Mahathir has barred Mr Najib and his wife from leaving the country, and replaced Tan Sri Apandi.

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