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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Pakistani lawmakers to elect new premier to replace Sharif

Three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif resigned on Friday, shortly after the top court ruled that he face corruption charges over concealing assets

Pakistan's prime minister-designate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (C) leaves with his party leaders after a meeting at Parliament House in Islamabad on August 1, 2017. AFP / Aamir Qureshi
Pakistan's prime minister-designate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (C) leaves with his party leaders after a meeting at Parliament House in Islamabad on August 1, 2017. AFP / Aamir Qureshi

Pakistani lawmakers were to vote on Tuesday to elect the successor to three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court last week over concealing assets, a lawmaker from the ruling party said.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League's choice for Mr Sharif's successor, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is certain to be elected as head of government since the party holds 188 of the 342 seats in the assembly. Mr Abbasi needs a simple majority of 172 votes to be elected.

"It will be an easy and comfortable win," said senior lawmaker Raja Zafarul Haq, adding that Mr Abbasi will be sworn in later in the evening.

Mr Sharif resigned on Friday, shortly after the top court ruled that he face corruption charges over concealing assets — specifically that his son's Dubai-based company had listed a monthly salary for him. Mr Sharif claimed he never received any of that money.

Mr Sharif's party has said it will file a petition with the Supreme Court next week, asking for a review of its decision.

Opposition parties have fielded five candidates against Mr Abbasi ahead of Tuesday's election.

The ruling party also said it wants Mr Abbasi to serve as an interim premier until Mr Sharif's younger brother — Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province — wins a national assembly seat in a by-election. The opposition criticised this as dynastic and undemocratic. The next general elections are due in June 2018.

In disqualifying Mr Sharif, the Supreme Court also asked Pakistan's figurehead president Mamnoon Hussain to "ensure continuation of the democratic process".

Mr Abbasi, a six-time lawmaker, has vowed to continue the mission of 67-year-old Sharif who served three separate stints as premier but could never complete his full term in office, mainly due to rocky relations with Pakistan's powerful military.

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