Published 1 hour ago bbc.com
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan could face removal from office this weekend, after the country’s top court ruled his move to block a no-confidence vote was unconstitutional.
On Sunday, Mr Khan’s ruling party refused to hold a no-confidence vote which would have ousted him.
His government then dissolved parliament and called a snap election.
The political blindside outraged the opposition which immediately launched an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Responding to the Supreme Court ruling, Mr Khan announced that he had called a cabinet meeting and would address the nation on Friday evening.
“My message to the nation is that I have always fought for Pakistan and will continue to fight till the last ball,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
Mr Khan has claimed without evidence that the political opposition was in a conspiracy with the US to remove him because of his friendly relations with Russia and China. Washington has strongly denied his claim.
The deputy speaker of the parliament – a supporter of Mr Khan’s – had justified his decision to block the vote on the basis of “foreign interference”.
However, the Supreme Court on Thursday found that Mr Khan’s move to block the no-confidence vote on Sunday was “contrary to the constitution and the law and had no legal effect”.
The court also ruled that Mr Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament was invalid. Earlier, the country’s electoral commission said that holding a snap general election within 90 days would not be possible.
The Supreme Court has now ordered parliament to reconvene on Saturday to proceed with the vote, which is expected to go against Mr Khan.
In that scenario, the opposition parties are expected to appoint a new prime minister who can hold power until August 2023, which is when a new election needs to be held.
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Mr Khan, a former star cricketer turned politician, swept into office in 2018 on a platform to tackle corruption and cronyism.
While he still has many supporters, he has lost some popular favour amid a rise in living costs and other scandals – and lost his parliamentary majority last week.
Analysts also say that Mr Khan may have lost support from the military, a crucial backer to any president.
The Supreme Court’s decision marks another chapter of political turmoil in Pakistan.
None of the nation’s prime ministers have ever served out a full term, due to various political scandals and power plays by the military in the past decades.
Several military coups and removals of democratically-elected leaders have seen a Pakistan that’s been directly ruled by the military for 33 of the 75 years it’s been an independent nation.