Parliament elects Gillani premier, to be sworn in Tuesday

March 24th, 2008 - 10:06 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Islamabad, March 24 (DPA) Pakistan’s lower house of parliament Monday elected as the country’s 25th prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, a member of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Scheduled to be sworn in Tuesday, Gillani won 264 votes to the 42 for opposition candidate Chaudhry Pervaiz of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid party.

With the announcement of Gillani’s election, parliament broke into riotous celebration that lasted nearly 15 minutes.

Members of parliament and spectators chanted “Long Live Bhutto” as Gillani approached PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Bhutto’s 19-year-old son, sitting in the spectator’s area and shook hand with him.

Bilawal, who was appointed titular chairman after his mother’s assassination in December, whipped tears from his eyes during the chanting. Although he is chairman, his father Asif Ari Zardari runs the party’s day-to-day affairs as co-chairman.

In his first address to parliament Gillani, with a framed photo of Bhutto on his desk, said sacrifice of the late former prime minister enabled Pakistan’s return to democracy and he requested the National Assembly allow the United Nations to probe her Dec 27 assassination.

Gillani had to stop speaking several times as spectators chanted “Go Musharraf Go,” referring to the PPP rival, President Pervez Musharraf.

Gillani said one of his first orders would be to order the release of about a half dozen senior judges still under house arrest, but he added, “I will request the judges not to hold street protests.”

The coalition government Gillani now leads consists of Musharraf’s political rivals - many of whom have called on the former army head to resign.

Musharraf Sunday said the new government “will have my full support.”

He said the foundation for “a real democratic era,” was laid during his eight years in power. Musharraf took power in a coup in 1999, but his popularity has nose-dived during the past year.

The PPP won the most seats but not an absolute majority in the Feb 18 election. It formed a coalition with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of Nawaz Sharif, also a former premier, who finished second in the election while the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Musharraf’s political backers, finished a distant third.

The coalition has already agreed to reinstate more than 60 senior judges Musharraf removed from office under the emergency order on Nov 3, within 30 days of the formation of government.

Born on June 9, 1952, Gillani, is a parliamentarian from the country’s most populous and prosperous province, Punjab. He has been elected a member of parliament four times starting in 1985.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |