Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim wins parliamentary by-election

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has won a parliamentary seat in a by-election that sets the stage for his eventual takeover from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The Election Commission said on Saturday that Anwar received 71 percent of the total votes cast, defeating six other candidates.

He got 31,016 votes, while his closest rival secured only 7,456.

“I am happy with the results. Allah bless us all,” Anwar said after the victory, which marks the charismatic politician’s political comeback from prison to parliament.

He is expected to be sworn in as a legislator on Monday. 

The 71-year-old is the designated successor to former foe-turned ally Mahathir, after they set aside a bitter political feud and joined hands to win a stunning victory in May’s general elections.

Mahathir, 93, returned to the prime minister post after the shock win, unseating Najib Razak, who was accused of massive corruption. 

Anwar could not participate in the polls due to a 2015 conviction for sodomy – a charge he alleged was politically motivated – but he was freed after receiving a royal pardon days after the polls.

WATCH: The new Mahathir and Malaysia’s media revamp (9:42)

He campaigned hard over the past two weeks to secure a mandate in the multi-racial constituency of Port Dickson, promising voters development, clean government and a boost to local tourism.

The multi-billion-dollar graft scandal at state fund 1MDB, over which Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor face dozens of corruption charges, was also at the centre of Anwar’s campaign.

“We are voting for the next premier. We need an influential leader to bring long-overdue progress to Port Dickson,” said 60-year-old voter Lee Tian Hock.

“This morning, I prayed to Allah for a big win for Anwar,” retired truck driver Mat Taib, a member of the country’s ethnic Malay majority, told AFP. 

“I want him to be our eighth prime minister.”

Political heavyweights including Mahathir have campaigned for Anwar in a road back to office that was unthinkable even six months ago.

The duo went onstage together at one campaign event, prompting wild cheers from supporters. 

WATCH: Can Anwar Ibrahim save Malaysia from corruption? (25:41)

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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