Imran Khan disqualified from holding office for five years, Pakistan’s election commission rules


Islamabad, Pakistan
CNN

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan will be banned from political office for five years, the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled on Friday, a move likely to further fuel political tensions in the country.

Reading the recommendation, ECP chief Sikandar Sultan Raja stated that Khan was disqualified for engaging in “corrupt practices”.

The commission said its decision was based on the reasoning that Khan had “made false statements” in relation to explaining the sale of gifts sent to him by the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Dubai during his tenure – an offense committed under the Constitution of the country is illegal.

In anticipation of protests by Khan’s supporters, there was a strong police presence in front of the Electoral Commission office in the capital, Islamabad, on Friday. Paramilitary troops have been stationed throughout the city and most of the Red Zone, which encloses key government buildings, including the Electoral Commission, has been closed to traffic.

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At a press conference immediately following the ECP’s announcement, leaders of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI), said they will take the matter to the Islamabad Supreme Court, claiming that the ECP’s decision ” biased.” ”

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said Friday this was the “beginning of a revolution” and urged supporters to “come out of their homes and onto the streets to uphold the constitution”.

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The announcement raises the prospect of Khan being unable to run in the next general election, which is expected in 2023. CNN has reached out to Khan’s attorney for comment.

The commission’s decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for Khan, who was dramatically impeached in a no-confidence vote in April.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement political party, which is part of the country’s ruling coalition that ousted Khan from power, had pushed for the commission’s investigation.

However, the cricketer-turned-populist continues to enjoy massive popularity.

He has repeatedly claimed his impeachment was the result of a US-led conspiracy against him. He has also claimed that current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the Pakistani military are behind his ouster.

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His claims struck a chord with a young populace in a country where anger and disillusionment with the political and military establishment is rife with a rising cost of living crisis and anti-American sentiment.

The US, the ruling coalition and the Pakistani military have all denied Khan’s allegations.

His enduring popularity has been reflected in recent provincial electoral victories for his party, and since his ouster he has repeatedly called for a new parliamentary vote at mass rallies.

Khan has repeatedly called for early elections and has announced he will lead his supporters on a long march to Islamabad.

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