Mahathir to stay up to two years as Malaysia PM

Mahathir with then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Mahathir with then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Mahathir was spurred out of retirement by a corruption scandal at 1MDB, a state fund that is being investigated by the US and several other countries after associates of defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly stole and laundered $4.5 billion from it. The police action followed a complaint lodged by two leaders of the youth wing of Mahathir's political party, Bersatu.The police report of the complaint, reviewed by Reuters, alleges that vans emblazoned with the logo of the department of the prime minister and cabinet delivered boxes for 50 Birkin handbags to Pavilion Residences on Thursday evening.The report alleged that the boxes showed the name of the consignee as Rosmah Mansor.

Mahathir, who became the world's oldest elected leader at 92 after national elections last week and previously served as prime minister for 22 years until 2003, has agreed to hand the baton to Anwar, but no timing has been given, creating uncertainty about how the two will work together in the interim. He also announced his coalition partner Anwar Ibrahim's release from jail.

Dr Mahathir reiterated there are no charges against Najib, and that the latter can not be detained but that he is "apparently" not allowed to leave the country.

The Prison Pardons Board is expected to convene at 11am on Wednesday, with Anwar's release expected soon after.

"[In] an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be prime minister", Mahathir told a Wall Street Journal conference in Tokyo via video link.

Before he could become prime minister, Anwar must first contest a by-election to become a member of parliament.

The alliance between Mahathir - who has been prime minister before - and Anwar came after years of feud as the latter was first jailed after Mahathir dismissed him as deputy prime minister in 1998.

Mahathir has named just three ministers so far in addition to himself and Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as deputy prime minister.

Anwar, in jail on sodomy charges his supporters say are trumped up, had been widely expected to be freed on Tuesday, paving the way for him to eventually become premier.

He maintains his innocence, and says on both occasions Mahathir and Najib turned to trumping up charges against him to keep him out of politics. His wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who heads Anwar's party, is now the new deputy prime minister.

Mahathir vowed on Monday to investigate any faults that may have been committed by Najib's government and said all ministries had been instructed not to destroy any documents.

Dr Mahathir added that he was facing the problem of "trying to trust people to investigate him". "If there is no case against him, we don't go for detention without trial".

US investigators say Najib's associates stole $4.5 billion from the fund, some of which landed in Najib's bank account.

It noted that between 2009 and 2015, several decisions involving high-value investments were made through 1MDB board resolutions without detailed discussion or evaluation.

Fernandes said he came under pressure from Najib's government before the May 9 vote, causing him to issue a video enthusiastically crediting its policies for the success of the homegrown low-priced carrier.

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