Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ousted in a no-confidence motion

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ousted in a no-confidence motion

ISLAMABAD, April 10 (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted on Sunday when he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, after being abandoned by coalition partners who blame him for the crumbling economy and breach of his campaign promises.

The result of the vote, which was the culmination of a 13-hour session that included repeated delays, was announced shortly before 0100 (2000 GMT Saturday) by the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Ayaz Sadiq.

Khan, 69, was ousted after three-and-a-half years as leader of the nuclear-armed country of 220 million, where the military has ruled for nearly half of its nearly 75-year history.

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Parliament will meet on Monday to choose a new prime minister.

Sunday’s vote followed multiple adjournments in the chamber, called for lengthy speeches by members of Khan’s party, who said there was a US conspiracy to oust the cricket star-turned-politician.

Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member chamber in support of the no-confidence motion, Sadiq said, making it a majority vote.

“Accordingly, the motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan was passed,” he said to the din of desks in the chamber. Khan, who was not present for the vote, did not immediately comment.

Only a few lawmakers from Khan’s ruling Tehreek-i-Insaf, or Pakistan Justice Movement, party were present for the vote.

The chamber voted after the country’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with Khan, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, as criticism mounted over the delay in the parliamentary process.

The front-runner to become Pakistan’s next prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, said Khan’s ouster was a chance for a fresh start.

“A new dawn has begun… This alliance will rebuild Pakistan,” Sharif, 70, told parliament.

Sharif, the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has a reputation as an efficient administrator. read more

Parliamentary elections are not scheduled until August 2023. However, the opposition has said it wants early elections, but only after defeating Khan politically and passing legislation it says is necessary to ensure the next election is free. and fair.

Khan’s ouster adds to Pakistan’s unenviable record of political instability: no prime minister has completed a full term since independence from Britain in 1947, though Khan is the first to be ousted by a vote of no confidence. (GRAPHIC: https://tmsnrt.rs/3JsJaU2)

He came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, but recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies abandoned Khan’s coalition government. There were also signs that he had lost the support of the military, analysts said.

CRACKED MILITARY IN KHAN

The military viewed Khan and his conservative agenda favorably when he won the election, but that support faded after a dispute over the appointment of the country’s next spy chief and economic problems.

“They (the military) don’t want to be seen as supporting him and blamed for his failures,” opposition leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Reuters earlier. “They have withdrawn their support.”

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

Reema Omar, South Asia legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, said it was an ignominious end to Khan’s term. On Twitter, she posted: “3.5 years marked by incompetence, extreme censorship, attack on independent judges, political persecution, bitter polarization and division, and finally blatant subversion of the Constitution.”

Khan’s allies blocked the no-confidence motion last week and dissolved the lower house of parliament, prompting the country’s Supreme Court to step in and allow the vote to proceed.

Khan earlier accused the United States of backing moves to oust him because he had visited Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin just after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Washington denied the accusation.

Muhammad Ali Khan, a lawmaker from Khan’s party, said the prime minister had fought to the end and would lead parliament again in the future.

Prime Minister Khan had been antagonistic to the United States during his tenure, welcoming the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year and urging the international community to work with them.

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Reporting from Asif Shahzad, Syed Raza Hassan, and Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam in Islamabad; Written by Sanjeev Miglani; Edited by William Mallard, Jan Harvey and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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