Bhutto’s party to name Pakistan premier Saturday

March 22nd, 2008 - 3:03 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Islamabad, March 22 (DPA) Pakistan’s next prime minister would be named by the Pakistan Peoples Party Saturday, its spokesman said Friday. “Martyred Bhutto’s son and the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto, will announce the name of the prime minister candidate tomorrow around 20.00 local time (1500 GMT),” Farhatullah Babar told DPA.

In the Feb 18 elections, assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s PPP had finished first, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of Nawaz Sharif, also a former premier, finished second.

The two parties have formed a coalition to constitute the new government, together with some other smaller parties and some independent candidates.

The new prime minister is scheduled to be elected March 24 by the lower house of the parliament, which is mainly packed with the rivals of President Pervez Musharraf, a key US ally in the fight against terrorism.

Musharraf’s political backers the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), finished a distant third in Feb 18 elections, leaving him struggling for his survival.

Bilawal Bhutto, 19-year-old son appointed titular PPP chairman, is taking time out from his studies at Oxford University to announce his party premier candidate in Pakistan.

But the analysts believe the decision in this regard will be made exclusively by his father Asif Ali Zardari, who runs the day-to-day affairs of the PPP as its co-chairman.

The party’s spokesman declined to name who is to be the candidate. “There are more than one candidate and the final decision will be announced tomorrow.”

However, some media reports suggested that the former speaker of the National Assembly and senior PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gilani, was likely to be the prime minister candidate.

Among other candidates are Shah Mehmood Qureshi and party president Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

The PPP sources are indicating that the incoming prime minister might led government only for an interim period of three to four months months till Zardari is elected as a member of parliament in by-elections and gets the office himself.

Previously, Zardari was ineligible because of corruption cases pending in the courts, which have quashed the allegations recently, clearing the way for him to contest by-elections.

In a dramatic move the MQM announced late Friday that it might ask its MP Farooq Sattar, who is the premier candidate of Musharraf’s loyalists, to step out of the competition.

“MQM chief Altaf Hussain assured Mr Zardari his party’s full support for PPP’s prime minister candidate during a telephone discussion,” Babar told DPA.

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