Pakistan Top Court Disqualifies PM from Office

Posted June 19th, 2012 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's highest court has declared Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ineligible for office, throwing the country into a new round of political turmoil.

On April 26, the Supreme Court found Mr. Gilani guilty of contempt for refusing to ask Swiss authorities to reopen their corruption investigation into President Asif Ali Zardari. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ruled that because Mr. Gilani had not appealed that conviction, he is disqualified as a member of parliament and no longer prime minister.

A senior Gilani aide responded to the ruling by saying only parliament could dismiss the prime minister, not the court. But according to Pakistani law, a person who has a prior conviction cannot serve in parliament.

The court has instructed President Zardari to take steps for the election of a new prime minister. Under the constitution, he must summon a joint session of parliament to elect the new leader.

Late Tuesday, Mr. Zardari held emergency talks with top leaders of his ruling Pakistan People's Party.

PPP central leader Qamruz Zaman Kaira says the party has reservations about the verdict, and if the prime minister has been removed, then the Cabinet also is removed.