Pakistan besieged Prime Minister Imran Khan ousted in a vote of no confidence after a 13-hour standoff

Pakistan’s Imran Khan gestures during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 4, 2021.SAIYNA BASHIR/Reuters

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted on Sunday when he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, after being abandoned by coalition partners who blame him for the crumbling economy and breaking his campaign promises.

The result of the vote, the culmination of a 13-hour session that included repeated delays, was announced shortly before 01:00 (2000 GMT on Saturday) by the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Ayaz Sadiq.

Khan, 69, was ousted after three-and-a-half years as leader of the nuclear-armed country of 220 million where the military has ruled for nearly half of its nearly 75-year history.

The overnight vote followed multiple adjournments in the chamber, called due to lengthy speeches by members of Khan’s party, who said there was an American conspiracy to oust the cricket star-turned-politician.

Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member chamber in support of the no-confidence motion, Sadiq said, making it a majority vote.

“Consequently, the motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan was passed,” he said as desks banged.

Only a few lawmakers from Khan’s ruling party were present for the vote.

The chamber voted after the country’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met with Khan, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, as criticism mounted over the delay in the parliamentary process.

Parliament will meet on Monday to choose a new prime minister.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, the favorite to lead Pakistan, said Khan’s ouster was a chance for a new start.

“A new dawn has begun… This alliance will rebuild Pakistan,” Sharif, 70, told parliament.

Sharif, the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has a reputation as an efficient administrator.

Elections are not due until August 2023. However, the opposition has said it wants early elections, but only after defeating Khan politically and passing legislation it says is necessary to ensure the next election is free and fair. fair.

Khan came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, but recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies gave up their coalition government. There were also signs that he had lost the support of the military, analysts said.

Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy battered by COVID-19 or deliver on promises to make Pakistan a prosperous, corruption-free nation respected on the world stage.

His ouster adds to Pakistan’s unenviable record of political instability: no prime minister has completed a full term since independence from Britain in 1947, though Khan is the first to be ousted by a vote of no confidence.

Khan’s allies blocked the no-confidence motion last week and dissolved the lower house of parliament, prompting the country’s Supreme Court to step in and allow the vote to proceed.

Khan earlier accused the United States of backing moves to oust him because he had visited Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin just after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Washington denied the accusation.

Muhammad Ali Khan, a lawmaker from Khan’s party, said the prime minister fought to the end and would lead parliament again in the future.

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