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PTI to talk with independents to form coalition govt

29 July, 2018

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The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Saturday said it has begun talks with independents and small parties to form a coalition government after a resounding triumph in the July 25 general elections, as rival parties plan protests over alleged vote rigging.

The Imran Khan-led party won 116 seats in Wednesday’s ballot, short of the 137 needed for a simple majority but a surprisingly strong showing that helped fuel suspicion of rigging. The latest tally, which was released early Saturday after long delays, showed the outgoing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in distant second place with 64 seats.

Imran Khan’s party scooped up 16.86 million votes in a better-than-expected performance, trouncing the party of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, which finished second with 12.89 million votes.

The PTI has begun reaching out to potential coalition partners to form a government, according to spokesman Fawad Chaudhry, a task that analysts said should be straightforward. “We have contacted small parties and independent members, they will soon meet party leaders in Islamabad,” Chaudhry said, adding that the process was likely to take about 10 days.

Chaudhry claimed that eight NA independent winners are all set to join the party. He also stated that five independent candidates have agreed to support the party in Punjab Assembly. “Along with the federal government, we will also form the government in Punjab,” Chaudhry said.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan continued to hold meetings with prominent leaders on Saturday. Former leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly Mehmoodur Rasheed also met with the party chief at his Bani Gala residence. Prior to this, Imran held individual meetings with party leaders Aleem Khan and Fawad Chaudhry.

Rasheed apprised the PTI chairman about establishing contact with the independent candidates. Both the leaders also discussed possible candidates for the post of Punjab chief minister. “Imran Khan wants a visionary and senior leader for the position,” Rasheed told media after the meeting.

The independent candidates are set to play a crucial role in determining which party forms the government in Punjab.

Meanwhile, two independent MNAs joined PTI on Saturday.

More than a dozen political parties at an All-Parties Conference (APC) held a day earlier promised to protest over the results. However, the group remained divided with some parties pledging to boycott joining the National Assembly and others calling for a new vote. The PML-N announced its support for the group but stopped short of saying it would boycott the new parliament.

And the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which was notably absent from the APC, said in a separate announcement that it rejected the results, but vowed to try to convince the other parties to participate in the parliamentary process.

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