Malaysia’s Mahathir says he will remain leader for 1-2 years

Mr. Mahathir said Mr. Anwar, who was jailed on sodomy charges in a conviction criticized as politically motivated, will be freed Wednesday.
Malaysia’s 92-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday he will run the country for one to two years before stepping down, and that defeated leader Najib Razak could be charged soon in a massive corruption scandal.
Mr. Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until 2003, left the ruling party he once led to join a four-party coalition that scored a stunning victory in last week’s elections. He agreed to hand over power to jailed reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim but had not previously given any timing.
Mr. Mahathir said Mr. Anwar, who was jailed on sodomy charges in a conviction criticized as politically motivated, will be freed Wednesday.
“In the initial stages, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister and I will run the country,” Mahathir told a Wall Street Journal conference via a video link. He said he needed time to fix the country’s financial problems and that he expects to continue to play a role even after he steps down.
Once a high flyer in the ruling party, Mr. Anwar was convicted of sodomy and an additional charge of corruption in 1998 amid a power struggle with Mr. Mahathir. The firebrand politician was convicted of sodomy a second time in 2015 after his opposition alliance made strong gains in the past two elections. Mr. Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending his two-decade feud with Mr. Mahathir, a gamble that paid off when the alliance won May 9 polls and ended the National Front’s 60-year grip on power.