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Mahathir attends meeting of Anwar's PKR party

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday attended the annual meeting of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), an opposition party that was formed to oppose his sacking of its imprisoned leader Anwar Ibrahim 19 years ago.

The turnaround that brought former foes to embrace each other was not without its awkward moments, as Dr Mahathir pledged his support for the Free Anwar campaign but stopped short of backing his former deputy as PKR's candidate to be the next prime minister.

Dr Mahathir refused to acknowledge his involvement in prosecuting his former protege by putting the blame on current Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"It is not me who put him in jail, that is an old story. Mr Najib is the one who put him (in jail)," he said, referring to Anwar's 2014 conviction for sodomy, for which he is currently serving a five-year jail sentence.

Anwar, who served as Dr Mahathir's deputy prime minister from 1993 to 1998, was first jailed during the Mahathir administration amid allegations of sodomy and corruption.

His PKR party was formed in April 1999 seven months after his sacking.

Dr Mahathir and Anwar met last September in a bid to put the past behind them, after Dr Mahathir left ruling party Umno and formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

At yesterday's event, in an awkward moment while he was on stage with fellow leaders of the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition, Dr Mahathir chose to pick up his phone and photograph the cheering audience, instead of holding up a placard that read "Anwar as the 7th prime minister" like everyone else.

But as he was leaving the congress, he signed the petition for the Free Anwar campaign.

This is the first time the former Umno president has attended a PKR congress.

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malaysiaMahathir MohamadNajib Razak