Monday, April 22, 2024

Vote on ousting PM Khan delayed

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Islamabad – Pakistan’s parliament abruptly adjourned before a planned vote on ousting Prime Minister Imran Khan and had not reconvened as scheduled on Saturday as political uncertainty continued to grip the country.

Members of Khan’s party suggested on Friday they would try to delay the vote as much as possible.

The cricket star turned politician has vowed to “struggle” against any move to replace him, the latest twist in a crisis that has threatened political and economic stability in the South Asian nation of 220 million people.

Khan’s allies had blocked a similar no-confidence vote last Sunday, but the country’s Supreme Court ruled that move unconstitutional, ordering Parliament to reconvene.

Speaker Asad Qaiser, a Khan ally, said the session would resume at 12:30 p.m. (local time), but an hour after that there were no signs of parliament reconvening.

Before the adjournment, Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, expected to become prime minister if Khan is ousted, addressed the assembly, urging Qaiser to ensure the vote was carried out as a matter of priority.

The speaker said he would implement the court order “in true letter and spirit”.

Khan, 69, surged to power four years ago with the military’s support, but recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies quit his coalition government.

Opposition parties said he had failed to revive an economy battered by COVID-19 or fulfil promises to make Pakistan a corruption-free, prosperous nation respected on the world stage.

The Opposition and some analysts said Khan had fallen out with the military, a charge he and the military deny.

The army ruled the state for half its 75-year, post-colonial history, and no prime minister has completed their full five-year term.

It was not clear how long Khan’s allies might seek to delay the vote.

Lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed, who had argued in court for the vote to go ahead, said he believed it must occur before midnight Saturday.

Khan, who enjoyed widespread popular support when he took office, said late on Friday he was disappointed with the court ruling, but accepted it. He called an election after dissolving the Parliament.

But he said he would not recognise any opposition government that replaced him.

Khan opposed the United States-led intervention in Afghanistan and developed relations with Russia since becoming prime minister.

He accused the United States of supporting a plot to oust him, without offering evidence of his claim, which Washington has dismissed.

If Khan loses the no-confidence vote, the opposition will put forward a candidate for prime minister.

(Reuters)

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