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Pakistan's Parliament meeting Tuesday to elect interim PM

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former petroleum minister, has been nominated by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party to serve as interim prime minister until the ousted Nawaz Sharif is formally replaced by his younger brother, Shahbaz. File Photo by Stringer/EPA
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former petroleum minister, has been nominated by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party to serve as interim prime minister until the ousted Nawaz Sharif is formally replaced by his younger brother, Shahbaz. File Photo by Stringer/EPA

July 31 (UPI) -- The Parliament of Pakistan will meet to elect a prime minister on Tuesday, four days after Nawaz Sharif resigned when the country's Supreme Court disqualified him from office over corruption issues.

The parliament's lower house -- the National Assembly -- is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Islamabad. The ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PML-N, nominated Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz for the position, but he must first contest for the seat vacated by the ousted prime minister in the National Assembly -- which won't make him eligible for the post for about two months.

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In the interim, the PML-N, which has a majority in parliament, nominated former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to take the reins. Pakistan's next general elections are scheduled for 2018.

The National Assembly is expected to easily approve of Abbasi for the interim position while Pakistan's Election Commission sets up new election in Nawaz Sharif's former constituency in about 45 days. The opposition could nominate a candidate to contest Shahbaz Sharif but it is not expected to secure enough support in the 342-seat National Assembly.

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Shahbaz Sharif must first resign as chief minister of the Punjab province before seeking election for his older brother's seat, which is also in Punjab.

Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif in a ruling that came after a 15-month investigation into his family's wealth, after Sharif's children were linked to offshore banking companies in the 2015 Panama Papers scandal. Although Sharif consistently denied any wrongdoing, a panel of five judges reached a unanimous verdict in the Islamabad court -- and Sharif resigned Friday.

Sharif was one year away from becoming the first Pakistani prime minister, among 18 since the country's 1947 independence, to complete a full term in office.

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