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Yousuf Raza Gillani set to become Pakistani Prime Minister
March 22, 2008 22:51 IST
Yousuf Raza Gillani, a Bhutto loyalist, will be the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Pakistan People's Party announced on Saturday, ending the month-long suspense marked by bitter tussle for the top post.
A former Parliament Speaker who is from a landowning family in Punjab, 56-year-old Gillani will head the incoming coalition government at a time when Pakistan is at crossroads and amid a looming confrontation with President Pervez Musharraf [Images].
Gillani was declared as the candidate of slain premier Benazir Bhutto's [Images] PPP on the eve of closing of nominations for the prime ministerial elections by PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar, who read out a brief statement saying he had an enormous responsibility to lead the coalition. He is currently PPP's vice-chairman.
After the National Assembly or the Parliament holds the formal elections on March 24, the new premier is set to be sworn into office by Musharraf the next day.
The election of Gillani, who spent four years in prison over allegations that he abused his authority as a Speaker, is a certainty given the majority the incoming PPP-Pakistan Muslim League-N coalition has in Parliament.
But the candidature of the man, who defeated former premier Nawaz Sharif in 1988, is likely to further expose the serious differences within slain premier Benazir Bhutto's party since veteran politician Makhdoom Amin Fahim, another close Bhutto aide, was the initial frontrunner.
Plans for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son who flew in from Britain, to unveil the name at a press conference were earlier dropped.
In an attempt to see that the elections do not go uncontested, Musharraf's main ally, the PML-Q, will field former chief minister of Punjab province Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as its candidate.