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Malaysia’s king appointed anti-graft politician and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister Thursday, ending the political deadlock that had gripped the multi-ethnic country following weekend elections that produced the nation’s first hung parliament, CNBC reported.
Anwar’s appointment came after a meeting between state-level rulers and King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah just days after the inconclusive polls.
Anwar’s reformist Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition secured 82 seats but fell short of the 112-seat threshold needed to have a majority in parliament. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s conservative alliance, Perikatan Nasional (PN), won 73 seats.
The former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) emerged as the kingmaker with 30 seats.
Earlier this week, the monarch had given the leading parties until Tuesday to present their alliances to form a government and nominate their preferred prime minister. But the deadline passed with no results.
Anwar’s ascension became possible after the BN – which has governed Malaysia for decades – said it would not join a PN-led government, according to the Washington Post.
The appointment ended more than two decades of waiting for the former deputy prime minister, who has led the opposition for 20 years amid stints in prison and political coups. It also likely ended the long career of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 97, previously a record holder as the world’s oldest national leader, who was running in the race.
Following his ascension, Anwar vowed to heal a racially-divided nation, fight corruption and revive the economy. He also plans to form a government that will include the BN and another political bloc to secure a 135-seat majority in the legislature, the Associated Press noted.
Even so, analysts said that the new prime minister will face steep obstacles in trying to unite the country’s divided electorate.