By Thomas Fuller

April 14, International Herald Tribune

KUALA LUMPUR: When he emerged from prison four years ago, Anwar Ibrahim was a weakened and gaunt figure all but written off by the Malaysian political elite.

On Monday, Anwar, resurgent and confident after leading opposition parties to their strongest gains in a half-century, will celebrate his political rehabilitation in front of an expected crowd of thousands of supporters at a soccer stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

During his nearly four decades in politics, Anwar, 60, has gone from being a radical Islamic student leader to deputy prime minister and then Malaysia's dissident-in-chief, imprisoned after a highly politicized trial. A ban on holding political office, imposed by the judge who in 1999 sentenced him to six years in prison for abuse of power, expires Monday, allowing Anwar to pursue the job he has coveted: prime minister.

"There's no rush," Anwar said in an interview at his office. "I don't need to be prime minister tomorrow."

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photo: Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian opposition leader (Palani Mohan/Reportage-Getty Images, for The NYT)