Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, Freed, Hails 'New Dawn'

Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, Freed, Hails 'New Dawn'

Anwar Ibrahim, a former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, has walked free after being granted a pardon for sodomy by the country's king.

The royal pardon potentially paves the way for him to succeed the country's elderly new leader Mahathir Mohamad, who was the surprise victor over former Prime Minister Najib Razak in last week's parliamentary election, reports the BBC and CNN.

Ibrahim has hailed a "new dawn" for Malaysia on his release from prison.

Anwar told jubilant supporters he fully backed his ally and former rival, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.

Earlier he was pardoned from what was widely seen as a politically motivated conviction for sodomy.

Mahathir, who sought the pardon, has promised to step aside for Mr Anwar to become prime minister within two years.

Once seen as a future leader, Anwar Ibrahim then fell out with the government. He was jailed for a second time three years ago on what he said were trumped-up sodomy charges.

After his release, he told a news conference he thanked the people of Malaysia, who "stood by the principles of democracy and freedom."

Image credit: EPA