Pakistan parties announce protests demanding new elections

Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazalur Rehman (right) and Shahbaz Sharif (left).
Pakistani opposition leader Maulana Fazalur Rehman (right) and Shahbaz Sharif (left).PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A group of Pakistani political parties on Friday (July 27) announced protests demanding new elections following allegations of rigging in this week's nationwide polls that were won by cricket hero Imran Khan's party.

"We will run a movement for holding of elections again. There will be protests," said Maulana Fazalur Rehman from the All Parties Conference, which included the outgoing ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The PML-N's leader Shahbaz Sharif announced his support for the "movement" but said he still needed to consult his party to see if they would boycott taking oaths that would swear them into parliament as well.

"The worst kind of irregularities have been committed which are unprecedented," said Sharif of the election.

The pivotal election has been branded "Pakistan's dirtiest", after widespread claims in the months leading up to the vote that the powerful military was trying to fix the playing field in Khan's favour.

European Union election observers expressed concerns that there was "a notable lack in equality of opportunity" in the vote, which was "not as good" as the country's previous election in 2013.

Rival parties met late on Friday as part of an alliance called the All Parties Conference where they called out the military for interfering in the polls.

 
 

"We will not allow democracy to be taken hostage by the establishment," said Rehman, using a word widely understood in Pakistan to mean the military as he stood on stage along with members from more than a dozen parties.

The vote was meant to be a rare democratic transition in the Muslim country, which has been ruled by the powerful army for roughly half its history, but was marred by violence and allegations of military interference.

Election results were still trickling in late on Friday; however, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party won the largest share of seats in the National Assembly and was set to begin building a coalition to form a government.