Pakistan’s ruling party vows smooth transition ahead of vote on interim PM

By Drazen Jorgic

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s president has called a special parliamentary session on Tuesday to hold a vote to install Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister, with the ruling party vowing a smooth transfer of power after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted.

Mamnoon Hussain announced his decision to summon parliament late on Saturday after Sharif put forward his staunch ally Abbasi as interim leader and his brother Shahbaz, 65, as long-term successor.

Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has a strong majority in parliament and should have no problem installing Abbasi as the new leader of the nuclear-armed nation.

The quick handover could ease political upheaval sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to disqualify Nawaz Sharif for not declaring a source of income. The court also ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family.

The turmoil and the premature end to Sharif’s third stint in power has also raised questions about Pakistan’s democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Sharif has lashed out against the court’s decision and opponents who used the Supreme Court to topple him but vowed his party would continue to focus on economic development, touting a faster-growing economy as proof of his success.

“Wheel of development is moving and may God keep it rolling and may it never stop,” he told members of PML-N on Saturday night.

On Sharif’s arrival, supporters chanted: “The Lion is here”.

But his foes slammed PML-N’s plans as dynastic and undemocratic, while opposition leader Imran Khan called it a form of “monarchy”.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which held street protests until the Supreme Court agreed to investigate Sharif, plans to hold a rally in the capital Islamabad on Sunday to celebrate his removal.

Sharif said the plan is for former petroleum minister Abbasi to stay in power for less than two months…

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