Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from jail, saying the opposition’s election victory was “a new dawn” for Malaysia.
Once seen as a future leader, he was jailed on sodomy and corruption charges after falling out with the government.
Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sought a pardon for Anwar, which was granted on Wednesday morning.
Mahathir has promised to step aside for Anwar to become prime minister within two years.
The politician was jailed for a second time three years ago on what he said were trumped-up sodomy charges.
After his release, he told a news conference he thanked the people of Malaysia, who “stood by the principles of democracy and freedom”.
“They demand change.”
For years Anwar headed Malaysia’s opposition movement, which has just defeated the former ruling party for the first time in the country’s history.
Last week’s shock election victory followed a reconciliation between Anwar and 92-year-old Mahathir, who sacked and jailed him 20 years ago during his first stint as prime minister.
Anwar said he had forgiven Mahathir and stressed he would give full support to the new government, though not immediately be part of it.
Anwar walked free out of a hospital in the capital Kuala Lumpur where he had been undergoing treatment for a shoulder problem.
Supporters camped out at the hospital trailed him to the Istana Negara royal palace where he met Mr Mahathir.
“Long live Anwar,” supporters on motorbikes yelled as they pull into the royal compound in support of their newly-freed leader.
“He is a symbol of freedom to Malaysians like me,” 59-year old Ahmad Samsuddin told the BBC.
“Finally. It feels like the tide of change is turning in Malaysia after so many years of injustice. Today is a historic day with Anwar’s release and will get even better.”