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Anwar Ibrahim makes history as tenth Malaysian prime minister

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Long-time Malaysian statesman Anwar Ibrahim is the country’s new prime minister after the Southeast Asian nation’s palace made the announcement on Thursday ending a protracted election deadlock.

Following the meeting with state rulers and in line with the Malaysian constitution, the king appointed Anwar as the Southeast Asian nation’s tenth prime minister. The king said in an official statement that Anwar would be sworn in at 5 p.m. local time.

“Whether you’ve lost or won at the election, I ask that you stand together for our beloved country,” he said, according to a CNBC translation.

“It is important that our nation is free of policy instability as the country needs a strong and stable government.”

He has asked elected members of parliament to continue to serve the nation well and extended gratitude to state rulers for their assistance as well as insights toward the resolution of the crisis.

Anwar’s appointment caps a more than 20-year wait for the former deputy prime minister who has been opposition leader for two decades amid jail terms and political coups.

Malaysia-listed stocks were in the green ahead of the announcement, but took another leg higher shortly after with the benchmark KLCI index up 3%. Telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd was among the top gainers, sitting more than 7% higher as rubber glove manufacturer Top Glove climbed 6%. Genting Malaysia also rose 5.16% and CIMB rose 3.45%.

The Malaysian ringgit also jumped more than a percent to 4.5070 against the greenback.

Malaysia needs to ask itself if it should tolerate 'fanatical extremist' views: Anwar

Malaysia’s general election on Saturday produced the nation’s first hung parliament, prompting the king to ask leading coalitions to present their alliances by 2 p.m. local time on Tuesday, in order to form government and nominate their preferred prime minister.

Parties and coalitions must win a simple majority of 112 seats in parliament, out of 222 seats that are up for grabs, in order to form the government — but none of the coalitions were able to do so.

Malaysia has been in political tumult since the opposition, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition —the largest in the country — won the 2018 election ending the 60-year rule of the Barisan Nasional.

Malaysia was thrown into political chaos after former prime minister and ex-chairman of Barisan Nasional, Najib Razak, fell from grace with his involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Najib has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.

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

The defection led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

The Southeast Asian nation had since had three prime ministers including Muhyiddin.

At Saturday’s election, Pakatan won the highest number of parliamentary seats at 82 but still fell short of 112, the number required to form government.

Incumbent ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional was in second place with 73 seats. The party’s chairman Muhyiddin Yassin was one of the prime ministers in recent years, after he and other members of Pakatan Harapan defected in 2020 to form Perikatan Nasional.

The defection led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.

Anwar, was deputy to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s before being thrown into jail for corruption and sodomy.

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

Source: CNBC