The incoming ruling party of slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has chosen the country's next prime minister, who is to be announced when the new parliament convenes early next month, party officials said yesterday.
However, a senior party official said Makhdoom Amin Fahim vice chairman and a founding member of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was selected to be premier by the party's top leadership during a closed-door meeting in Islamabad on Friday.
"The party in principle decided to take a prime minister from Sindh province, and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, being a senior party member, was chosen," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Sindh is the political stronghold of Bhutto's PPP, and 68-year-old Fahim, who hails from the province's Hyderabad district, is one of the party's most-respected members.
"Yousaf Raza Geelani, the former speaker of parliament and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the PPP provincial president in Punjab, were the strongest candidates from Punjab province," the party official said. "But the party agreed to select the prime minister from Sindh province."
PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar confirmed that the party had agreed upon a new premier, but said the name would not be announced until the Pakistan National Assembly convenes in early March. He declined to say why the party was delaying the announcement and said PPP were continuing meetings through the weekend.
Nonetheless, Fahim had been widely expected to become prime minister. A party stalwart, he is considered a moderate force and a consensus builder, though far more reserved than the charismatic Bhutto.
Fahim ran the PPP while Bhutto was in self-exile for eight years. Bhutto returned home in October to run for an unprecedented third term as prime minister, but was killed in a gun and suicide bombing attack at a campaign rally on December 27.
Last Monday, the PPP led a one-two sweep of parliamentary elections, trouncing the ruling party of embattled President Pervez Musharraf and dramatically altering the balance of power in nuclear- armed Pakistan.
Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and PPP co-chairman, has agreed to form a coalition government with fellow opposition leader Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which finished second in the polls.
Once parliament convenes, the parties are expected to begin chipping away at the constitutional powers Musharraf compiled after seizing power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.
First among them, the PPP said in a statement Friday, would be to eliminate Musharraf's authority to dissolve parliament and dismiss the elected government.
"The participants expressed views on the prevailing situation in the country and vowed to work for the restoration of parliamentary supremacy by undoing undemocratic provisions under which elected parliaments have been dismissed," a PPP statement said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Şubat 2008, 17:27