Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad on Tuesday said he will remain in office for at least one to two years.
Mahathir made the statement in an interview hours before the Pardons Board was expected to meet on Wednesday regarding his expected successor, Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year jail term on sodomy charges that his supporters say were orchestrated by ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"We think that within a short while, we will have a case against him, we will be able to charge him", he said via video link to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) CEO Council Meeting in Tokyo.
"I will play a role in the background even when I step down", he added, however.
The WSJ said it obtained audio remarks from Anwar earlier Tuesday and quoted the jailed politician as saying that Mahathir should be given time to achieve his immediate objectives.
Responding to Mahathir's statement, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail agreed that her husband, Anwar, would not immediately take over from Mahathir.
Anwar was imprisoned again in 2015, when Najib was prime minister, after another sodomy charge, which he described as a politically motivated attempt to end his career. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", he said.
But in 1998, they disagreed on how to tackle the Asian financial crisis and fell out.
Mahathir on Saturday stopped Najib from leaving the country, and sacked the attorney general who had cleared him of involvement in a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal.
Asked if Najib would go to prison, he said: "It all depends on the investigation being made and whether there is a case against him or not".
He had barred Najib from leaving Malaysia and pledged to reopen a corruption probe into state fund 1MDB.
1MDB is now under global probes in at least six countries, including Switzerland and Singapore, over charges of money laundering and bribery. If there is no case, we do not go for detention without trial.
Analysts say tensions in the new government are possible due to the dominance of the two leaders - Mahathir is the chairman of the alliance and Anwar is its de facto leader.
The head of Malaysia's anti-corruption watchdog resigned on Monday, while attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali was put on leave as Mr Mahathir moved to step up the investigation into allegations of corruption at the 1MDB fund, which has attracted the attention of prosecutors and regulators around the world.
Anwar, 70, is expected to walk free Wednesday after obtaining a royal pardon, but his expected return to politics could cause tensions in the new government led by his former foe, Mahathir Mohamad.
A day later, photos of an AirAsia plane sporting the BN's campaign slogan "Hebatkan Negaraku" (Make My Country Greater) and colours was posted on Najib's Facebook page, which also show him boarding the plane with Fernandes.
Billions of dollars are believed to have been siphoned off from the fund, with most reportedly disappearing overseas, while $681 million also mysteriously appeared in Najib's personal bank accounts in 2013.
The rise in bond yields pulled down shares in real estate investment trusts and other high-dividend-paying stocks. USA equity markets closed solidly lower on Tuesday with the Dow industrials halting their eight-day advance.
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At his trial in the late 1990s, prosecutors repeatedly brought what they said was a semen-stained mattress into court. Despite all of that history, Anwar and Mahathir have managed to reconcile, and now, to make history in Malaysia.
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Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), said: "It is an enormous step backwards to deemphasize this growing challenge". Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intel Committee, also blasted the idea on Tuesday.
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