Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani
In the latest development in Pakistan following the political mayhem triggered by an apex court order disqualifying ex-premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, the ruling Pakistan People's Party Friday named former information technology minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as its choice for the post of prime minister.
Ashraf's candidacy is expected to be approved by the parliament later Friday evening since the ruling coalition has a majority.
Ashraf, 61, was the ruling party's second choice after the first nominee Makhdoom Shahabbuddin was hit by an arrest warrant, soon after he was nominated by President Asif Ali Zardari, in connection with imports of illegal drugs while he served as Pakistan's health minister in 2010.
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A senior PPP leader and a strong loyalist of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's family, Ashraf has served twice in the cabinet of Gilani, who was ousted on a Supreme Court order Tuesday.
Addressing the opposition demand for early parliamentary elections, the party said polls would be held later this year. "This year will be the year of new elections, and we are going for the elections," senior PPP member Khursheed Shah said at a news conference where the party announced Ashraf's candidature.
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