KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim will contest for a seat in the country’s parliament, his party announced on Wednesday, as a party MP resigned to make way for the senior leader just months after their coalition won a shock May general election.
Anwar, who just returned to public life after years of incarceration, has been named the ruling coalition’s prime minister-in-waiting but needs a seat in parliament to legitimise his position should Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad step down for him in this term, as promised.
Anwar will contest the coastal seat of Port Dickson in the south-western state of Negri Sembilan, and his People’s Justice Party (PKR) has pledged to pull all the stops to ensure his return to active politics and eventually lead the Pakatan Harapan, or Pact of Hope, government.
“We believe... he will strengthen Pakatan Harapan’s position as an MP,” PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said at a press conference to announce the move, aired live on local television.
Anwar was not present at the press conference as he was on a flight back from Hong Kong.
Anwar changed the face of Malaysian politics in the late 1990s, becoming the face of the Reformasi or reform movement after he was sent to jail during Mahathir’s last tenure as premier over disputed charges of sodomy and corruption.
Anwar was previously Mahathir’s deputy but the two leaders had a falling out during the 1997-1999 Asian financial crisis.
Anwar, was later freed in 2004, but jailed a second time for sodomy in 2015. Both times, he and his supporters said the charges were politically motivated.
Mahathir secured a royal pardon for Anwar after the May election, and promised to step aside for his friend-turned-foe-turned-ally to become prime minister.
Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Michael Perry