Pak supreme court sacks PM Gilani

FP

The supreme court of Pakistan today disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from parliament, and ruled that he had "ceased" to be in office since April 26, when it convicted him of contempt.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) accepted the court's verdict and is expected to meet tomorrow to name a replacement. Ministers Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Khursheed Shah were said to be among the contenders.

"Yousuf Raza Gilani has become disqualified from being Member of Parliament," a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in an order passed nearly two months after the court convicted Gilani of contempt for refusing to ask Switzerland to reopen graft charges against Zardari.

"Since no appeal was filed against this (April 26) judgment, the conviction has attained finality. Therefore, Gilani has become disqualified from being a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)... from... 26.04.2012... He has also ceased to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with effect from the said date... The office of Prime Minister shall be deemed to be vacant accordingly," the court said.

Later in the day, the election commission issued a back-dated notification disqualifying Gilani. The fate of decisions taken by the government since April 26 was not immediately clear. PPP spokesperson Qamar Zaman Kaira said, "Technically, the Prime Minister is no longer the prime minister... If there is no prime minister, the cabinet doesn't exist."

Today's verdict came in response to petitions challenging National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza's decision not to disqualify Gilani following his April 26 conviction. Chief Justice Chaudhry wondered whether the speaker had the authority to scrutinise the judgment of a seven-judge of the apex court.

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