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Khan's Candidate Declared Senate Speaker After Contested Vote

Pakistani Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani (file photo)
Pakistani Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani (file photo)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's candidate has been declared chairman of the upper house of parliament in a vote marred by allegations of manipulation.

Official results announced on March 12 showed that Sadiq Sanjrani, who was backed by Khan and his allies, had defeated by a count of 48 to 42 the opposition parties' joint candidate, former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah, who supervised the vote, said that seven ballots in favor of Gilani were invalidated because they were improperly stamped, thereby handing the government's candidate victory.

Opposition parties, who claim Khan was brought to power in a fraudulent election in 2018, rejected the results of the Senate vote.

The ballots "were legally cast," said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who heads the opposition Pakistan People's Party that had fielded Gilani.

Zardari raised the possibility of a lawsuit to challenge the declared results.

Earlier in the day, opposition senators said they had discovered cameras installed at the main polling booth, leading to a delay of the vote.

Shah said that authorities removed the devices and ordered an investigation into the incident.

The new chairman was chosen after elections were held for 37 recently vacated seats in the upper house, which resulted in Khan and his allies winning more seats.

However, the government still lacks a majority in the 100-seat Senate.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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