Former Malaysia PM Najib Razak banned from leaving country

Citizens were already sick of racially divisive politics in the multi-ethnic country and graft scandals under years of rule by the coalition

Citizens were already sick of racially divisive politics in the multi-ethnic country and graft scandals under years of rule by the coalition

And their story may not be over.

The 92-year-old Mahathir - who had retired in 2003 as premier but made a comeback in a bid to oust the coalition he once headed - was sworn yesterday, becoming the world's oldest elected leader. Many wonder if he would really be willing to give that up for his former deputy.

Anwar's rise was meteoric.

But in 1998, they disagreed on how to tackle the Asian financial crisis and fell out.

The finance minister has been an ethnic Muslim Malay since 1974 and the appointment of Lim, a chartered accountant who led the wealthy northern state of Penang since 2008, reflects reforms pledged by Mahathir's alliance to heal racial divisions in the country blamed on decades-old preferential policies.

Anwar Ibrahim on his way into court.

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah, said the king wanted to grant the pardon as soon as possible and "if the director of prisons is satisfied. then [Anwar] may be released in two to three days".

But voters turned out in droves, determined to push out the scandal-plagued government, with the opposition boosted by the presence of standard-bearer Mahathir, who has a huge following among the country's Muslim Malay majority.

They say some 700 million (£517 million) landed in Mr Najib's bank account.

He denied any wrongdoing and was cleared by Malaysia's attorney-general, even as United States authorities alleged that over $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund in a fraud orchestrated by a financier known to be close to Najib and his family.

Some of Anwar's supporters were aghast that he was making up with his nemesis, but others said it was a shrewd move.

The National Front, which has ruled Malaysia since independence from Britain, obtained only 79 of the 222 parliamentary seats, losing power to Mahathir Mohamad's four-party alliance amid public anger over the 1MDB scandal and rising cost of living.

Before Anwar, 70, can serve in a high office, Mahatir said, he'll need to become a member of Parliament - and, he warned, "That might take a long time".

"It's not easy for him to agree to my role in the opposition party".

Dr Mahathir came out of retirement and defected to the opposition to take on and beat former protege Najib Razak.

Dr Mahathir said that Pakatan would immediately begin the process of getting Anwar's pardon formalized.

Because Anwar has been in custody, his views are not known. Charged with corruption and sodomy, Ibrahim is to be released from imprisonment on May 15, confirmed his daughter Nurul Izzah on Saturday. His prosecution was widely seen as politically motivated, because he posed a threat to now-former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Still the people of Malaysia have cast their lot with Mahathir, hoping that their country will regain the prosperity and good standing it once had among the family of nations.

Malaysia's 5-year credit default swaps, the cost to insure against a Malaysia debt default in the next five years, climbed to an 11-month peak in late US trading on Thursday.

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