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 stunning 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 returned to the prime minister post in May, saying he would stay in power for only two years before handing the reins to Anwar, who was in prison at the time for a 2015 conviction for sodomy which he alleged was politically motivated.
Anwar received a royal pardon days after the polls.
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.
“I will see you in parliament on Monday,” he told the AFP news agency earlier on Saturday as he visited a polling centre, smiling broadly.
“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.