Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, was ousted on Sunday when he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, after being deserted by coalition partners who blame him for a crumbling economy and failure to deliver on his campaign promises.
Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, the front-runner to lead Pakistan, said Khan’s ousting was the chance for a new beginning.
The result of the vote, the culmination of a 13-hour session that included repeated delays, was announced just before 1 a.m. local time by the presiding speaker of parliament’s lower house, Ayaz Sadiq.
Khan, 69, was ousted after three and a half years as the leader of the government in a country where the military has ruled for nearly half its nearly 75-year history.
The late-night vote followed multiple adjournments in the chamber, called due to lengthy speeches by member’s of Khan’s party, who said there was a US conspiracy to oust the cricket star-turned-politician.
Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member house in support of the no-confidence motion, Sadiq said, making it a majority vote.
There were just a few legislators from Khan’s ruling party present for the vote.
The house voted after the country’s powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Khan, said two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, as criticism mounted over the delay in the parliamentary process.
Parliament will meet on Monday to elect a new prime minister. “A new dawn has started… This alliance will rebuild Pakistan,” Sharif, 70, said in parliament.
Sharif, the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has a reputation as an effective administrator.
Elections are not due until August 2023. However, the opposition has said it wants early elections, but only after it delivered a political defeat to Khan and passes legislation it says is required to ensure the next polls are free and fair.
Khan surged to power in 2018 with the military’s support, but recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies quit his coalition government. There were also signs he had lost the military’s support, analysts said.
Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy battered by Covid-19 or fulfil promises to make Pakistan a corruption-free, prosperous nation respected on the world stage.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell