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Anwar Ibrahim makes history as tenth Malaysian prime minister

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 pm 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 political instability as the country needs a strong and stable government.”

The 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 rose with the benchmark KLCI index trading 2% higher following two negative sessions. Shortly after the announcement, telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd set 7.45% higher, and rubber glove manufacturer Top Glove was up 6.15% in the afternoon session. Genting Malaysia was up 5.16% and CIMB was 3.45% higher. The Malaysian ringgit strengthened slightly against the US dollar and last stood at 4.5080.

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

Malaysia’s general election on Saturday produced a hung parliament, prompting the king to ask leading coalitions to present their alliances by 2 pm 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.

The election — Malaysia’s 15th general election — resulted in the nation’s first hung parliament after four years of political tumult. The Southeast Asian nation has had three prime ministers in three years.

Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan, the largest opposition party, won the election in 2018 which ended the 60-year rule of the Barisan Nasional. At Saturday’s election, it 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.

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

Malaysia was thrown into political chaos after former Malaysian Prime Minister and ex-chairman of Barisan Nasional, Najib Razak, fell from grace after his involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Najib has been sentenced to 12 years in jail.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.

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