An­war wins by-elec­tion

Malaysia frees 11 eth­nic Uighur Mus­lims

Arab Times - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

PORT DICK­SON, Malaysia, Oct 13, (Agen­cies): An­war Ibrahim won an over­whelm­ing man­date in a par­lia­men­tary by-elec­tion on Satur­day, set­ting the stage for his re­turn to front­line Malaysian pol­i­tics and seal­ing the once-jailed op­po­si­tion fig­ure’s re­mark­able res­ur­rec­tion.

Fig­ures from the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion showed he got more than 71 per­cent of the to­tal votes cast in a sev­en­way con­test that in­cluded a former aide who lodged the sodomy charges that landed An­war in pri­son for a sec­ond time in 2014. Win­ning the seat is a key re­quire­ment for An­war to suc­ceed 93-year-old Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, who jailed his former pro­tege and heir ap­par­ent on sodomy and cor­rup­tion charges in 1998 when their re­la­tion­ship soured.

Ma­hathir re­turned to the premier­ship this year af­ter a shock elec­tion win, say­ing he would stay in power for only two years be­fore hand­ing the reins to An­war.

An­war was in pri­son when he forged an un­likely al­liance with Ma­hathir in a bid to un­seat then prime min­is­ter Na­jib Razak, who had called elec­tions for May amid mas­sive cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

Un­der­scor­ing the drama of Satur­day’s vote, one of An­war’s six chal­lengers is a former aide who also ac­cused the then-op­po­si­tion leader of sodomy, land­ing the 71-year-old in jail for a sec­ond time in 2014.

But the charis­matic politi­cian is ex­pected to eke out an easy win in the seat, which was va­cated af­ter a mem­ber of the rul­ing coali­tion stepped down to pave An­war’s re­turn.

Malaysia has freed 11 eth­nic Uighur Mus­lims who es­caped from im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion in Thai­land, their lawyer said Fri­day, ig­nor­ing a re­quest from Bei­jing to de­port the group to China.

In the dra­matic break­out last Novem­ber, 25 mem­bers of the per­se­cuted mi­nor­ity used blan­kets to climb out of their cells in a dar­ing pre-dawn es­cape from im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion in south­ern Thai­land.

Eleven of them, all men, es­caped over­land to neigh­bour­ing Malaysia, where they were caught and charged with il­le­gal en­try.

South­ern Thai­land and Malaysia share a com­mon bor­der, which is eas­ily pen­e­tra­ble.

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