Anwar Ibrahim's lawyer says the Malaysian king has granted him a full pardon and all past convictions have been expunged.

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media in Kuala Lumpur on February 4, 2015.
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaks to the media in Kuala Lumpur on February 4, 2015. (Reuters)

Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim was granted a full pardon on Wednesday and walked free out of a hospital in Kuala Lumpur where he has been undergoing treatment.

Smiling and waving to supporters, Anwar, 70, was wearing a black suit with a tie. He was surrounded by his family, lawyers and prison guards before getting into a car and driving to the palace for an audience with the king.

"The pardons board has already met and the king has granted a full pardon, which means all past convictions have been expunged," said Sivarasa Rasiah, Anwar's lawyer. 

TRT World's Mhairi Beveridge reports.

Family time

Anwar said that he would give full support to the government led by former rival Mahathir Mohamad, but would not immediately be part of it.

"I have given my assurance, I am here as a concerned citizen to give complete support to manage the country on the understanding that we are committed to the reform agenda, beginning with the judiciary, media and the entire apparatus," Anwar said in a news conference at his home after he was freed from custody.

Anwar said it was Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's prerogative to form the cabinet, but noted he had given assurances that he will consult party leaders.

Anwar said he would take some time off with his family. "I've told Tun Mahathir, I don't need to serve in the cabinet for now," he said, using an honorofic for the prime minister. 

Supporters gather

Supporters gathered on Thursday at the hospital from where Anwar walked free just a week after his alliance scored a shock victory in a general election.

Devamacar Arumugam, 45, a woman wearing a sari made up of Anwar's People's Justice Party (PKR) flags, said she waited all day on Tuesday and was back just after dawn on Wednesday to see him free. "Today, I am very happy," she said.

Anwar joined forces with his old ally-turned-foe-turned ally, 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, to oust scandal-tainted former premier Najib Razak. Mahathir, who is now prime minister for a second stint, had vowed to enable Anwar's release and eventually step aside for him to become the prime minister.

Anwar, 70, has been recovering from a shoulder injury in the hospital under police guard.

A royal pardons board met at 11 a.m. (0300 GMT) to clear his release.

Anwar sought a royal pardon on the grounds of 'miscarriage of justice', which would reverse his conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics.

His freedom is expected to ease fears of a growing rift within the newly formed coalition government, after differences erupted between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role in the party.

Mahathir is the leader of the ruling alliance and Anwar's PKR won the majority of parliamentary seats in the group.

The volatile relationship between Mahathir and Anwar has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for over three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

On Tuesday, Mahathir said he expected to be prime minister for one or two more years.

"I am disappointed because I had hoped he could be prime minister as soon as possible," said Talib Ibrahim, an Anwar supporter outside the hospital. Wearing a white shirt printed with a photograph of Anwar and the words "March 2 Freedom", he said he nevertheless believed Anwar and Mahathir could work together and that the alliance's prospects were good. 

Source: Reuters