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Malaysia’s Mahathir congratulates rival Anwar on appointment as prime minister

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Anwar is expected to start discussions on forming his Cabinet as he begins work on Friday as prime minister at a challenging time, with the economy slowing and the country deeply split after a close election.

The 75-year-old was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, capping a three-decade political journey from a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to protest leader, a prisoner convicted of sodomy and opposition figurehead.

Anwar, who was appointed by Malaysia’s king following an inconclusive election, said that the people of Malaysia had long been awaiting change.

“We will never compromise on good governance, the anti-corruption drive, judicial independence and the welfare of ordinary Malaysians,” he said late on Thursday.

Anwar’s appointment ends five days of unprecedented post-election crisis but could usher in further instability with his rival, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, challenging him to prove his majority in parliament.

Both men’s coalitions failed to win a majority in Saturday’s election, but Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah, appointed Anwar after speaking to several lawmakers.

The campaign pitted Anwar’s progressive, multi-ethnic coalition against Muhyiddin’s mostly conservative ethnic-Malay, Muslim alliance.

The uncertainty over the election had threatened to exacerbate instability in Malaysia, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and also risked delaying policy decisions needed to foster economic recovery.

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