Pakistan’s Election Commission on Friday barred former Prime Minister Imran Khan from holding public office on charges that he illegally sold state gifts and concealed assets, his spokeswoman said. The move is likely to aggravate continuing political instability in the impoverished nation.
The electoral body released its long-awaited verdict in the capital, Islamabad, Fawad Chaudhry, who condemned the decision, told reporters.
According to legal experts, the ruling will see Khan lose his seat in the National Assembly. The decision comes months after Parliament ousted Khan through a no-confidence motion.
Angered by Khan’s disqualification, his party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, urged his supporters to take to the streets to peacefully condemn the decision.
The ruling was made public days before Khan announced his expected departure to Islamabad to force Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government to call early elections.
Sharif’s governing coalition has asked the Election Commission to take action against Khan, who is accused of illegally selling official gifts he had received from other heads of state when he was in power.
Khan is also accused of hiding the money he received from those sales.
Since his impeachment, Khan has claimed that his government was overthrown by Sharif as part of a US plot, but both the president and Washington deny the allegation.
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