Pakistan’s coalition government to step down next month for October elections

Islamabad, July 17 (EFE).- Pakistan’s coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will step down next month as it completes its term, paving the way for general elections due in October, an official spokesperson said Monday.

An interim government will take over for a period of three months to conduct the elections as per the constitution.

“We, within our constitutional tenure, will handover this government to the caretaker setup (next month),” Marriyum Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif’s government, said during a press conference on Monday.

The incumbent government is completing its tenure on midnight Aug.12 after its five-year term.

The current National Assembly or lower house of the parliament, elected Imran Khan as prime minister in August 2018, succeeded by incumbent Sharif in a vote of no confidence in April last year.

As per law, general elections should be held within 60 days if the elected assembly completes its constitutional tenure.

In case of early dissolution, elections need to be held within 90.

Aurangzeb said Sharif would take final decision if he dissolves the assembly before its due time or leaves it dissolved automatically on Aug.12.

The prime minister has indicated early dissolution of the assembly that would give political parties one more month to run the election campaign.

“Next month our government will complete its tenure, (but) we will leave before the completion of our tenure and an interim government will come in,” Sharif said while speaking in Sialkot on Sunday.

Earlier, the prime minister said his Pakistan Muslim League-N would accept whatever the verdict of people in the next polls.

He also hinted at the return of elder brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to the country, ending a self-exile of nearly four years in the United Kingdom.

The prime minister promised that if voted back to power, Nawaz Sharif — as the fourth time elected prime minister — would “make Pakistan great.”

“Nawaz Sharif sahib will turn Pakistan into a progressive state if people provided him another opportunity to lead the country,” said the younger Sharif.

The elder Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10.6 million in a money laundering case and for corruption related to his family’s purchase of upscale London flats in July 2018 after the Supreme Court sacked him as the prime minister.

The PML-N chief was also sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges in another case by a Pakistani anti-corruption court in December 2018.

Legal experts say he will have to go to jail upon return as his bail has expired.

The three-time prime minister was granted an eight-week bail on medical grounds in October 2019 and subsequently allowed to travel abroad for treatment for four weeks in November by the then prime minister Khan.

Prime Minister Sharif had given an undertaking in a court that he would return, but he did not.

The elder Sharif was disqualified for life from running for elections and holding any public office.

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