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17 May 2018, 12:39 | Damon Campbell
Mahathir Mohamad insisted that he respected the right to freedom of speech but the move is likely to alarm liberalsLAI SENG SIN REUTERS
"Anwar should never have been jailed in the first place, and his long overdue release is an important step towards the restoration of justice and human rights in Malaysia after so many years of political persecution by previous governments", said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General.
His sentence expires on June 8 but the unexpected election win of his alliance led by former leader Mahathir Mohamad in May 9 polls led to his swift release.
Anwar, 70, walked out of a rehabilitation hospital where he was recuperating from a shoulder surgery just past 11.29am on Wednesday.
His daughter, lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, said the Pardons Board will meet today, after which Anwar is expected to be released.
Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until in 2003, emerged from retirement to join hands with former political foes to oust Najib amid anger over the 1MDB scandal.
It was Anwar's second spell in prison.
Malaysia's outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak walks to a news conference to concede the general election in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 10, 2018.
"The hope is that Anwar and Mahathir will find a way to work together especially during this period of transition", said Rashaad Ali, research analyst with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Last week, "we freed Malaysia from BN, today we freed Anwar Ibrahim from prison", PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi tells cheering crowd.
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Anwar served as Mahathir's deputy prime minister in the 1990s, but their relationship soured during the Asian financial crisis from 1997 onwards.
"The people have high expectations, and with the combination of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar, our country can return to greatnesss".
With success came new allegations, and Anwar was once again jailed on new sodomy charges in 2015.
Following his release, Mr Anwar said he had forgiven Mr Mahathir and stated he will give full support to the new government.
The election result was a demand for change and it's the new government's responsibility to ensure that mandate is honored, he said.
Pakatan Harapan supporters and media practitioners had gathered in Padang Timur in front of Petaling Jaya's Amcorp Mall as early as 5.30pm on Wednesday (May 16), with many donning t-shirts bearing PKR's trade mark "biru muda" (light blue) colour.
Anwar was beaten up while in police custody and convicted for corruption in 1999 and for "sodomy" in 2000.
"The reason why the public supported us is they have faith in the leadership of the opposition to resolve some of the problems", Mahathir said Tuesday.
"I think Tun Dr Mahathir will certainly welcome that sort of decision, because I told him, I will be kept informed, I will of course be interested to know what is happening, but I don't need to serve the cabinet for now", he said.
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