© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A shop owner adjusts a television screen to watch Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at his store in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 31, 2022. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
By Asif Shahzad and Syed Raza Hassan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted on Sunday as he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, after being abandoned by coalition partners who blamed him for the economy. economic collapse and failed to deliver on his campaign promises.
The results of the vote, the culmination of a 13-hour session that included multiple delays, were announced shortly before 01:00 (2000 GMT on Saturday) by the speaker of the lower house, Ayaz Sadiq .
Khan, 69, was ousted after 3-1/2 years as leader of the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, where the military has ruled for almost half of its nearly 75-year history .
The vote took place late at night after several postponements in the room, called off due to lengthy speeches by party members by Khan, who said there was a US plot to overthrow the prominent politician. of cricket.
Sadiq said opposition parties were able to win 174 votes in the 342-member house to support the no-confidence movement.
“Therefore, the proposal against Prime Minister Imran Khan has been passed,” he said with a thud of the table.
Only a handful of lawmakers from Khan’s ruling party were present to vote.
The House of Commons voted after the country’s powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Khan, said two unnamed sources, because of increased criticism of the delay in the progress of the country’s military. Congress.
Parliament will meet on Monday to elect a new prime minister.
Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who led Pakistan, said Khan’s ouster was an opportunity for a fresh start.
“A new dawn has begun… This coalition will rebuild Pakistan,” Sharif, 70, told parliament.
Sharif, the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is known as an effective administrator.
Elections will run until August 2023. The opposition, however, has said it wants early elections, but only after they lose politically to Khan and pass legislation they say is necessary to ensure that follow-up polls are free and fair.
Khan came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, but recently lost his parliamentary majority as allies abandoned his coalition government. There are also signs that he has lost the support of the military, analysts say.
Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy ravaged by COVID-19 or deliver on his promise to make Pakistan a prosperous, corruption-free nation respected on the world stage.
His overthrow prolongs Pakistan’s incredible record of political instability: having completed their entire term since independence from Britain in 1947, though Khan was the first to be removed through a vote of no confidence. (PICTURE: https://tmsnrt.rs/3JsJaU2)
Khan’s allies last week blocked the no-confidence movement and dissolved the lower house of parliament, prompting the country’s Supreme Court to step in and allow the vote to pass.
Khan earlier accused the United States of backing moves to overthrow him because he visited Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Washington denies the accusations. .
Muhammad Ali Khan, a lawmaker from Khan’s party, said the prime minister had fought to the end and would return to lead parliament in the future.