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Pakistani Ruling Coalition Names New Prime Minister


The Pakistani ruling coalition's nominee for prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf
The nominee for prime minister from Pakistan's ruling coalition, Raja Pervez Ashraf, has been confirmed.

Ashraf's candidacy was approved by the lower house of parliament, where the ruling Pakistan People's Party and its allies enjoy a comfortable majority.

The announcement came after two days of negotiations following the Supreme Court's removal on June 19 of Yusuf Raza Gilani from the prime minister's post, and after Gilani's initial proposed replacement was withdrawn after antinarcotics police issued an arrest warrant for him.

"I find it very difficult to announce the name of our final nominee for the post of the prime minister" from among the three contenders," said Syed Khurshid Shah, a senior official of the Pakistan People's Party, in Islamabad on June 22.

"After consultations with our political allies, our leadership has asked me to announce the name of Raja Pervez Ashraf."

Not A Long-Term Solution?

Ashraf is considered a loyal member of the People's Party. But his record is not unblemished.

As water and power minister, Ashraf was seen by many Pakistanis as being among the senior officials who failed to take effective action to ease a crippling energy crisis, which has led to a series of violent protests.

Ashraf's nomination comes after veteran politician Makhdoom Shahabuddin's nomination was scuttled on June 21 after an arrest warrant was issued for him over allegations he illegally imported drugs while he was health minister.

The leadership change was triggered after the Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that Gilani was ineligible to hold office following his conviction for contempt for refusing to reopen a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The lower house of parliament has been summoned to vote in the new prime minister later on June 22.

Ashraf's term is expected to last for only a few months, as the government has hinted that it could call an election before its mandate expires early next year.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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