ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s lawmakers will elect a new prime minister tomorrow to replace ousted leader Nawaz Sharif, with ruling party stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expected to become interim leader until Mr Sharif’s own brother is eligible.
The confirmation from parliament came after Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain convened a special session following Mr Sharif’s decision to put forward his ally Abbasi as interim leader and named his brother Shahbaz, 65, as long-term successor.
Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice, barring any defections from its own ranks.
A quick handover could ease political upheaval sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to disqualify Mr Sharif for not declaring a source of income. The court also ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family.
Mr Abbasi yesterday vowed to continue Mr Sharif’s work.
“I hope that God will help me in furthering Nawaz Sharif’s policies,” Mr Abbasi told reporters in Islamabad, adding to speculation that Mr Sharif will continue to run the show behind the scenes.
The turmoil and the premature end to Mr Sharif’s third stint in power has also raised questions about Pakistan’s democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
“We wanted to make sure there is a smooth transfer of power, and no constitutional crisis,” said Miftah Ismail, a senior PML-N official and Sharif ally.
But his foes slammed PML-N’s plans as dynastic and undemocratic, while opposition leader Imran Khan called it a form of “monarchy”.
Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party held street protests until the Supreme Court agreed to investigate Mr Sharif.