Lawmakers Elect Shehbaz Sharif as Pakistan’s New Premier. Protests in Parliament Greet Appointment

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attends a summit on climate resilience in Pakistan, months after deadly floods in the country, at the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, January 9, 2023.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Lawmakers in Pakistan’s National Assembly elected Sunday Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new prime minister for the second time.

Allies of imprisoned former premier Imran Khan in parliament shouted in protest against his appointment, alleging rigging in last month’s election.

Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said Sharif secured 201 votes, defeating Omar Ayub of the Sunni Ittehad Council who got 92 votes. Sharif only needed 169 votes to get majority.

Ayub enjoyed the backing of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, whose candidates could not get enough seats to form a government on their own. The PTI refused to hold talks with its rivals to form a coalition.

Following days of negotiations, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party and his supporters formed an alliance after the Feb. 8 election whose results were announced after an unusual delay because of a nationwide mobile phone outage. Authorities said the cutting of communications was necessary to avoid militant attacks on candidates and security forces.

However, the delay drew criticism from Khan’s party, which insists the vote was rigged to stop it from getting a majority. The party claims it has evidence that its victory “was stolen during the vote count,” a charge the Election Commission denies.