REFORMIST leader Anwar Ibrahim is celebrating a “new dawn” for Malaysia after he was given a royal pardon and freed from custody.

The move transformed a political prisoner into a prime minister-in-waiting after his alliance’s stunning election victory last week.

Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was aimed at crushing his alliance, which was making gains against Malaysia’s long-ruling coalition government.

His sentence was set to end on June 8 but the unexpected election win, which ended the National Front’s 60-year rule, led to his swift release.

“Now there is a new dawn for Malaysia,” he said.

Anwar said he was grateful to Malaysians “regardless of race and religion, who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom”.

The election result was a demand for change and it is the new government’s responsibility to ensure that mandate is honoured, he said.

He and his supporters have long denied the sodomy allegations. Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending the two-decade feud with Mahathir Mohamad, leader of the new government.