Mush summons assembly session for PM election

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Islamabad, Mar 21: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has summoned a special session of the National Assembly on Monday to enable the Lower House to elect its new leader.

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will form a coalition government at the Centre after election of the leader of the house. Benazir's son Bilawal, who is currently studying at Oxford, is already in Islamabad to announce the name of the candidate approved by the PPP and PML-N for the Prime Ministerial slot.

Bilawal had been named the party chairman after Benazir's assassination in a gun and suicide attack after an election rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. However, it was decided that his father and Benazir's widower Asif Ali Zardari will act as co-chairman till Bilawal completes his studies.

The top PPP leaders have been keeping the name of candidate for Prime Minister's office under wraps. It is expected that the party will nominate either party's Vice Chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim or formr speaker Yusuf Raza Gillani or senior PPP leader Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar as Prime Minister.

The selection of the candidate, to be made by the 19-year-old Bilawal's father and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, has led to an unprecedented controversy in the party after Mr Fahim, who is also the president of its electoral arm PPP Parliamentarians, found his candidacy being blocked by a mysterious propaganda campaign against him and the talk of an alternative being sought from the most populous Punjab province rather than from the hopeful's Sindh.

The Pakistani President, who faces a tough time with coming into being of a National Assembly hostile to him, called the new session on recommendation of caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro after the House elected its first woman speaker, Dr Fahmida Mirza and her deputy by more than a two-thirds majority.

This showed that the pre-dominantly anti-Musharraf camp could muster enough numbers in a joint session of the two Houses of parliament to impeach him if they so wanted.

The PPP and PML-N beat Musharraf's allies , Pakistan Muslim League (Q) with a huge margin in February 18 elections despite the ex-army general's vigorous campaign in their favour.

The election for leader of the house or Prime Minister will be held through division in parliamentary parlance, in which members go to different lobbies to record their votes for candidates in accordance with the direction of their respective parties as required by an anti-defection clause of the Political Parties Act that forbids floor-crossing.


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