Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from prison after receiving a full pardon from the king, the latest twist in a political journey worthy of a Hollywood plot.
Mr 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.
Mr 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”.
“They demand change.”
Mr Anwar said he had forgiven Mr Mahathir and stressed he would give full support to the new government, though not immediately be part of it.
“I and Mahathir have buried the hatchet already, it was a long time ago,” Mr Anwar told the news conference at his home.
For years he had headed Malaysia’s opposition movement, which last week defeated the former ruling party for the first time in the country’s history.
Last week’s shock election victory followed a reconciliation between Mr Anwar and his 92-year-old erstwhile political mentor, who sacked and jailed him 20 years ago during his first stint as prime minister.
Mr Anwar walked free out of a hospital in the capital Kuala Lumpur where he had been undergoing treatment for a shoulder problem.
Supporters camped out at the hospital trailed him to the Istana Negara royal palace where he met Mr Mahathir before being pardoned by the king.
“Long live Anwar,” supporters on motorbikes yelled as they pulled into the royal compound in support of their newly-freed leader.
“He is a symbol of freedom to Malaysians like me,” 59-year old Ahmad Samsuddin told .
“Finally. It feels like the tide of change is turning in Malaysia after so many years of injustice. Today is a historic day with Anwar’s release and will get even better.”
Source – BBC