Pakistan elects its first woman speaker

March 19th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Islamabad, March 19 (DPA) Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, elected its first woman house speaker Wednesday, officials said. Three-time parliamentarian Fahmida Mirza, who was greeted by members of all parties as she entered the house, sailed through the vote with 249 of the 327 members voting for her.

Mirza is a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Senior PPP leader and former house speaker Yousaf Raza Geelani welcomed the vote of a woman as speaker.

“It’s a good step. It will promote Pakistan’s soft image in the world,” he said.

The 13th National Assembly sworn in Monday has a record 76 women members.

The PPP, which leads the incoming coalition government, will also name the next prime minister, but Wednesday they still did not say who the candidate would be.

The PPP finished first and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of Nawaz Sharif, also a former premier, finished second in the Feb 18 election, while the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), President Pervez Musharraf’s political backers, finished a distant third.

The PPP and Sharif’s party formed a coalition after ironing out differences concerning how to address the issue of restoring senior judges Musharraf sacked in November.

Restoring the judges has been a central issue for the coalition, signalling a showdown with Musharraf.

Musharraf removed more than 60 senior judges under an emergency order Nov 3. He sacked the judges to prevent the Supreme Court from disqualifying him for another presidential term.

Once the deposed judges are reinstated they can revoke the approval and force Musharraf to leave office. But Musharraf has shown no signs he will step down willingly.

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Posted in South Asia |