Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Éelections in Pakistan&nbsp ;: pro-Imran Khan candidates in the lead

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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered a speech at a Pakistan Muslim League celebration in Lahore on Friday .

Agence France-Presse

Supporters of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan are still ahead in Pakistan's elections on Friday evening as the end of counting approaches, but with a limited lead over the two major dominant parties. traditionally the political scene.

Even if these results are confirmed, this does not mean that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of #x27;Imran Khan, who has surpassed expectations, will be able to form a government.

Since none of the three blocs can any longer obtain an absolute majority, the winner will have to form alliances. All options therefore remain open regarding the composition of this coalition. Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which was the favorite in the poll, remains best placed to achieve this.

We do not have the majority to lead the government alone, so we invite other parties and winning candidates to work with us, declared the one who has already served three terms as prime minister, at his party headquarters in Lahore.

Nawaz Sharif, 74, who returned to Pakistan in October after four years in exile in London, is said to have the support of the #x27;army, according to observers.

Imran Khan's party was not allowed to appear on the ballot, forcing its candidates to compete as independents. Despite everything, the latest preliminary official results give 92 seats to independents – the vast majority linked to the PTI – for the legislative vote, against 63 for the PML-N.

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The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, representing the x27;other political dynasty in the country, also did better than expected with 50 seats, according to the Electoral Commission.

These announced results relate to 225 of the 266 constituencies at stake. The slowness of the counting only added to the suspicions of manipulation against the PTI.

Candidates supported by the PTI mainly won seats in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (northwest), its stronghold, where two PTI supporters were killed and 24 were injured in riots Friday evening. These are the first post-election violence reported since Thursday's vote.

Two protesters were hit by stones and lost their lives in Shangla district, local police official Sahibzada Sajjad Ahmed told AFP.

Protests also took place in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and in Quetta, Balochistan. For many Imran Khan voters, the delay in publishing the results reinforced the belief that victory was being stolen from them.

Our results were changed […] The government should recount all the votes, said Muhammad Saleem, a 28-year-old trader who joined some 2,000 PTI supporters who blocked a major thoroughfare in Peshawar.

The Commission cited Internet problems to explain the slowness of the process. The authorities' cutoff of mobile telephone and Internet services on Thursday had already fueled doubts about the fairness of the elections.

The x27;National Assembly has 336 deputies, but 70 seats are reserved for women and religious minorities and allocated proportionally. As the PTI is not authorized to compete under its own colors, it cannot claim any of these additional seats.

Independents cannot form a government themselves and have 72 hours to decide whether they join a parliamentary group or not, which also works against the PTI. This gives time for other parties to woo PTI-backed independents and push them to join them, a common practice in Pakistan.

Even if the PTI fails to form a government, the elections show that there is a limit to electoral manipulation, Bilal Gilani, director general of the PTI, told AFP. ;Gallup Pakistan polling institute. This shows that the military doesn't always get what it wants.

The Interior Ministry said Friday that 61 attacks took place on Thursday, the day of the vote. They left 16 dead and 54 injured. The day before, 28 people died in two bomb attacks claimed by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Baluchistan province.

The campaign had been marked by accusations of pre-election fraud, with the sidelining of the popular Imran Khan, 71, sentenced to three long prison terms, and repression against his party .

The PML-N and the PPP had formed a coalition government, under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz's brother, after the ouster of Imran Khan from the post of prime minister by a motion of no confidence in April 2022.

The PPP then distanced itself from the PML-N during the campaign and seems to have suffered less from the unpopularity of this government. Its leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 35, son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2007, spoke of very encouraging results.

The anti-system posture of Imran Khan, former cricket star, explains why his popularity has remained intact, despite a time in power marked by a deterioration in the economic situation.

He directly challenged the army, which ruled the country for decades and was nevertheless suspected of having supported it in 2018. He accused it of x27;having orchestrated his fall in 2022 and attributed his legal troubles to him.

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