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Shehbaz Sharif elected Pakistani prime minister for a second time after controversial elections

By Azaz Syed, CNN

Islamabad (CNN) — Shehbaz Sharif has become Pakistan’s prime minister for a second time nearly a month after an inconclusive general election marred by delays and widespread allegations of vote-rigging.

No party secured a majority in the February 8 poll. Candidates affiliated with the PTI party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan were forced to run as independents, but still secured most seats, with 102.

The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party (PMLN), headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is also the older brother of Shehbaz Sharif, came in second with 73 seats, and their long-term rivals the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 54 seats.

After winning his brother’s backing, Shehbaz Sharif returns to a role he held until parliament was dissolved last year, and will lead a coalition government with the PMLN.

Following the vote in the lower house of parliament, opposition party members began chanting at Sharif as he addressed parliamentarians, calling him a thief.

Under the coalition, the PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari takes the presidency. Zaradari is the widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose family dominates the party.

Shehbaz Sharif was first sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister in April 2022, after Imran Khan was dramatically ousted from power in a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

Khan has since been jailed and sentenced to at least 14 years in prison on multiple charges, including corruption and revealing state secrets.

In February, Khan and his wife were sentenced to a further seven years in prison after a district court ruled their 2018 marriage violated the law. Khan has rejected the charges as politically motivated.

Pakistan’s new government is already facing clear challenges, including mounting discontent over the country’s worsening poverty. Sharif will be tasked with starting further talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a deal to secure Pakistan’s economy.

Loyal supporters of Khan who have continued to rally against authorities are also likely to pose an issue for Sharif.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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