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New Pakistan parliament to be sworn-in

Members of new Pakistani parliament take oath, marking the country's first democratic transition in 65 years

AFP , Saturday 1 Jun 2013
Nawaz
Nawaz Sharif is all set for a record third term as Pakistan's Prime Minister (Photo: Reuters)
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Pakistan's new parliament is set to be sworn-in on Saturday, completing the country's first-ever democratic transition of power in a country ruled for half its history by the military.

Newly-elected lawmakers were seen entering the parliament building for the oath-taking ceremony as security was tightened around the "Red Zone" of the capital Islamabad where key government buildings are located, an AFP photographer said.

Pakistan's 65-year history has been punctuated by three periods of military rule. The country achieved its democratic milestone by completing its full five-year term under a coalition government led by Pakistan People's Party.

But the PPP was routed at the polls, blamed by voters for five years of apathy and drift which saw crippling power shortages worsen and militancy continue almost unabated.

"The newly-elected members will take the oath during the first session after the general election, on Saturday," the national assembly secretariat said in a statement.

It said that election of speaker and deputy speaker will be held through secret ballot on 3 June and on 5 June  the lawmakers in lower house would elect the prime minister.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) romped to victory and will command 177 of the 342 seats in the new assembly, giving it significant leverage to oust Zardari from the president's house when his term expires in September.

Sharif will be sworn in as prime minister for an unprecedented third term on Wednesday. During his two previous administrations he earned a reputation for hotheadedness and pugnacity.

"I thank Allah who gave our nation an opportunity to bring a new government through elections," Sharif told reporters at Islamabad airport where he arrived from his home town Lahore.

"It is a good development that a peaceful democratic transition is taking place today. There could not be a better way to change a government through ballot. I congratulate the nation over it."

PML-N leaders said they will take the opposition on board to take on the various problems confronting Pakistan.

"We will closely coordinate with the opposition parties to tackle the enormous problems facing our country," senior PML-N figure and newly elected MP Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

But the problems facing Sharif's new government are enormous -- a failing economy, endless power cuts and rampant Islamist militancy -- and analysts say the 63-year-old is likely to seek a more conciliatory path.

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