Reuters KUALA LUMPUR/TOKYO (Reuters) — New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday he will remain in office for one or two years and that Anwar Ibrahim, the jailed reformist he had vowed would replace him, will be released on Wednesday.
Mahathir, 92, said he thought that “in a short while” the government could have a case against his predecessor, Najib Razak, who has been dogged by a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
A four-party alliance driven by Mahathir and Anwar won the general election last week, ousting the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time in the history of the Southeast Asian nation. Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, making him the world’s oldest democratically elected leader.
In “an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister,” Mahathir said, speaking by live video link from Kuala Lumpur to a Wall Street Journal CEO conference in Tokyo.
“I will play a role in the background even when I step down.”
The pardons board in Malaysia’s capital will meet on Wednesday to discuss Anwar’s release and Mahathir said he would be released the same day.
Anwar, 70, is serving a second five-year jail term for sodomy. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated.
A royal pardon would reverse Anwar’s conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics. He has been in hospital for a few months recovering from a shoulder operation.